Robert Mugabe, the intensely anti-LGBT president of Zimbabwe, has been placed under house arrest by his nation’s military, which has seized control of the government.
“The move by the armed forces appears to have resolved a bitter battle to succeed the 93-year-old president, which had pitted his former vice-president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, against Mugabe’s wife, Grace,” The Guardian reports. Mugabe was in negotiations with the military Thursday, his second day of house arrest.
Mugabe, who was active in Zimbabwe’s fight for independence from the United Kingdom, was prime minister of the country from 1980 to 1987, and has been president since 1987. He has become increasingly dictatorial.
He has made numerous anti-LGBT statements, calling gay people “filth” and “worse than pigs and dogs,” and said gay men should be beheaded. In 2011, he had a political opponent jailed because she claimed Mugabe himself was gay. Last year he said the country would not accept foreign aid to ease its drought-related problems if it came with a provision of recognizing same-sex marriage; it was unclear if any country had actually made that a condition.
Many military leaders support the appointment of Mnangagwa as president. Unfortunately, he has largely endorsed Mugabe’s anti-LGBT stances. In November 2016, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe would reject the United Nations Human Rights Council’s recommendation that is decriminalize homosexuality and accept marriage equality.
“With regards to areas that we felt we would not accept, it is issues of gays and homosexuality, which is unlawful in our country,” he told Zimbabwe’s Herald newspaper at the time. “We rejected all those. There are a few countries from Europe which recommended that we reconsider our position with regard to adults of same sex marrying each other. That we have rejected.”
U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told Parliament he wants “proper, free and fair elections” in Zimbabwe, according to The Guardian. “Nobody wants simply to see the transition from one unelected tyrant to a next. No one wants to see that,” Johnson said.