Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe Prime Minister, Backs Gay Rights For New Constitution

10/24/2011 03:16 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Though he's previously supported his country's notoriously hostile stance on gays and lesbians, Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai now says he wants LGBT rights enshrined in new constitution, the BBC is reporting.

At present, homosexual acts are currently prohibited in Zimbabwe, as they are in most African nations where homosexuality is seen as un-Christian and un-African. As Pink News is reporting, President Robert Mugabe has previously condemned LGBT people on several occasions, once calling them "worse than pigs and dogs."

Tsvangirai similarly dismissed previous calls for LGBT rights protection in his nation, going as far as to say he "totally agreed" with Mugabe's views. But now, he is coming out against that rigid stance. "As long as it doesn't interfere with anybody, who am I to define what individual [one's] opinion is going to be as far as their sexual preferences are concerned? To me, it's a human right," he tells the BBC.

As The Guardian is noting, it's undoubtedly a surprising change of heart for Tsvangirai, who once said, "Women make up 52% of the population … there are more women than men, so why should men be proposing to men?" Though Tsvangirai's reversed views were quickly championed by LGBT bloggers and various human rights advocates around the world, his spokesman was quick to clarify that the prime minister "still believes that "the issue of homosexuality is alien in Africa," according to the AFP. "However, he is a social democrat," Luke Tamborinyoka is quoted as saying. "What he was saying is that ordinary people's rights must be respected as long as they do their things in private."

Last year, two gay rights activists in Zimbabwe claimed to have been abused and tortured after six days in police custody, after being accused accused of possessing pornographic material and insulting Mugabe, The Guardian is reporting.