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Saturday, November 13, 1999 Published at 19:09 GMT

World: Africa

Gay activist offers Mugabe tea for two

Robert Mugabe: "Homosexuals lower than dogs and pigs"

A gay rights campaigner has offered to go to Zimbabwe for talks with President Robert Mugabe following the African leader's remarks about "gay gangsters" in the British cabinet.

Peter Tatchell, from the gay rights group OutRage! said on Saturday he wanted to have "afternoon tea" with the president to "persuade him to drop his anti-gay crusade".

President Mugabe has accused UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, of using what he described as "gay gangsters" to target him during a recent visit to Britain.

He repeated his criticisms of the British Government at the Commonwealth Summit in South Africa, describing the Cabinet as being a "gay organisation".

[ image: Peter Tatchell wants to have tea and make peace]
Peter Tatchell wants to have tea and make peace
The President was reacting to an incident last month when Peter Tatchell and three other activists from OutRage! stopped President Mugabe's car during a private visit to London.

Mr Tatchell opened the car door, grabbed President Mugabe by the arm, and told him he was under citizen's arrest for torturing Zimbabwean gays.

The Zimbabwean president is angry with the government for allowing Mr Tatchell's actions.

At this weekend's summit he said: "People who are homosexuals are queer because they think differently."

'I don't hate him'

On Saturday Mr Tatchell said it was time to make peace despite the President's well-documented comment about homosexuals being lower than dogs and pigs.

He said: "I want a meeting with the president to discuss human rights issues. Providing President Mugabe will guarantee my immunity from arrest and agree to meet me, I will come to Zimbabwe early next year".

"I don't hate him. It is his homophobic policies that are objectionable," he added.

Mr Tatchell is due to report to Belgravia police station in London on Tuesday to discover whether he is to be charged over his "citizen's arrest" of President Mugabe.

Mr Blair's spokesman made light of the diplomatic row on Friday, saying: "The prime minister is not a gay gangster."

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