Original Research - Special Collection: Africa Platform for NT Scholars

R.G. Mugabe and Zimbabwe’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer conundrum: Contextualising Romans 1:26–27

Lovejoy Chabata
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 80, No 2 | a9839 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v80i2.9839 | © 2024 Lovejoy Chabata | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 April 2024 | Published: 08 July 2024

About the author(s)

Lovejoy Chabata, Department of Old and New Testament, Faculty of Theology, Ethics, Religious Studies and Philosophy, Catholic University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe; and, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Zimbabwe’s late President, R.G. Mugabe, became (in)famous for his bawdy and scurrilous attacks on people of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) sexual orientation. In Romans 1:26–27, Paul seems to berate and condemn homosexual relations in R.G. Mugabe’s tone of abhorrence, describing LGBTQ activities as ‘unnatural’ and ‘unseemly’. This article sought to investigate whether the perceived Pauline anti-homosexuality diatribe in Romans 1:26–27 endorses or negates R.G. Mugabe and Zimbabwe’s constitutionalised anti-homosexuality policy. This study addressed a highly controversial, politicised and socially sensitive sexual practice in Zimbabwe. The investigation, inter alia, revealed that both in Paul’s Greco-Roman and Zimbabwean contexts, women are not expressly or legally included in the anti-homosexual dictates. It also emerged that homosexual relations are older than both the Roman 1:26–27 and R.G. Mugabe cultural milieus. The article exposed a plethora of misunderstandings around the subject of LGBTQ+ relations and recommended down-to-earth, unbiased discourses on the subject. The investigation applied a Reader Response hermeneutical paradigm coupled with ethnographic analysis to interpret Zimbabwe’s LGBTQ+ stance as read with Romans 1:26–27.

Contribution: The article demonstrated the relevance of Romans 1:26–27 to the intricacies of the LGBTQ+ sexual orientations in Zimbabwe and implications for policy making on the subject of homosexuality.


Romans 1:26–27; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer; Robert Gabriel Mugabe; Reader Response criticism; Zimbabwe Constitution.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities


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