Showing posts with label Zimbabwe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Zimbabwe. Show all posts

September 28, 2018

One Week After Coming Out Gay Zimbabwe Teacher Quits After Death Threats




Picture of Neal HovelmeierImage copyright



 
Image captionHe wanted to address the issue of homophobia in the school

A gay teacher at a top Zimbabwean boys' school has resigned after death threats and pressure from parents. 
Neal Hovelmeier, deputy head for St John's College's sixth form, came out to his students last week. 
He was encouraged to do so as a Zimbabwean newspaper was planning on outing Mr Hovelmeier, the school's chairman wrote in a letter. 
Some parents threatened legal action against him in a country where homosexual acts are illegal.  
"I will not submit myself to a sham trial," Mr Hovelmeier wrote in his resignation letter. 
The teacher, who has worked in the elite school for 15 years, apologised for the distress caused by revealing his sexuality, saying it has since led to "death threats as well as threats of physical danger to myself and my pets". 
"I have come to realise that my current position as deputy headmaster is now untenable," he wrote in the resignation letter. 
Mr Hovelmeier came out to the student body on 21 September when the school, which is based in the capital Harare, released a statement by him. 
He wrote that former students had confided to him that they had felt intimidated and ostracised at the school amidst a homophobic atmosphere. 
He said he could only deal with the issue if he was "open and transparent about it myself".

Presentational grey line

The emotive issue of homosexuality in Zimbabwe

By Shingai Nyoka, BBC Africa, Harare
The issue of gay rights has always been both controversial and emotive within Zimbabwe's conservative society.
It was one of the most contentious matters as a new constitution - adopted in 2013 - was being drawn up. The majority of Zimbabweans appeared to support the continued outlawing of homosexual acts - and a clause banning same-sex marriage was added to the country's laws.
Zimbabwe's gay community is small and largely operates underground. Secret gay bars do exist and the Gay and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (Galz) is formally registered and recognised as a civil society group, but in the past it has been raided by police. 
Former President Robert Mugabe was most outspoken against gay rights, describing gay people as "worse than pigs and dogs". Other government ministers have been at pains to say that no person should be denied healthcare, or have their children lose access to education, because of their sexuality.
More recently when asked whether he would champion gay rights, Mr Mugabe's successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said a constitution voted for by the people was in place, hinting that amidst the myriad challenges facing the country, the issue was not a priority.

Presentational grey line

The move was applauded by rights activists, but also led to uproar among some of the parents. 
Footage of an emergency parents' meeting on 24 September showed participants angrily shouting at one another. 
On the same day, the school's chairman Charles Msipa released a letter to the parents. 
He took responsibility for Mr Hovelmeier coming out to the school, saying their hand was forced as a newspaper planned on revealing the teacher's sexuality. 
Mr Msipa thought it was in the college's best interest if Mr Hovelmeier "communicate directly to stakeholders in an open, transparent manner".
"The publication of the story in the Daily News newspaper of Saturday September 22 was based on the management communication of the matter - rather than conjecture and rumours," Mr Msipa wrote.  The following day, a law firm hired by some of the parents threatened legal action against the school if its board did not resign, according to a letter by the firm seen by the BBC.
It said the teacher's decision to come out "has no place whatsoever in a school environment where they are minors, who look up to your staff as their life models as they exercise their role". 
They also cited the country's Section 73 criminal law that criminalises gay sex, and said that their clients therefore reserved "a right to place criminal charges against your staff member". 
The British curriculum boys school was founded in 1986 and admits boys from the age of 12 to 18, its website says.

September 27, 2018

Sounds Like The A-Bomb Exploded in Zimbabwe After A Teacher Comes Out Gay


Image result for Zimbabwean high school teacher has triggered a furore after coming out






Harare - A Zimbabwean high school teacher has triggered a furore after coming out to students and parents as gay to pre-empt a newspaper story that would have outed him. Neal Hovelmeier, a teacher at the private St John's College in Harare, and headmaster Cavaliere Corrado Trinci wrote a letter revealing his homosexuality to parents after announcing it during assembly at the boys only school.

Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe. St John's College made the disclosure after the independent Daily News sent in media questions about the teacher. 

Hovelmeier said he made the decision in the hope it would curb homophobic behaviour after some former pupils who had gained confidence after school to pursue their sexual orientation told him how they had “intolerance, intimidation and homophobia" while at St John's.
The 6th form teacher’s admission sparked heated debate countrywide and on social media, which some critics saying the school should not have assembled pupils to make the disclosure.

{The tweets were so full of ignorance based homophobia and discredited Anti gay ideas.


In a Twitter polls asking participants if they would be happy with Hovelmeier teaching their sons, over 6 500 or 52 percent voted ‘no’, compared to 36 percent who said ‘yes’ and 12 percent who were ‘undecided’.

"I don’t have a problem with him being gay. I just think that he didn’t have to assemble children and announce that he is gay," Twitter user Kudzai Mutisi posted on the network. "Parents will take this as an attempt to influence their kids. After all, these kids look up to him.”
During a meeting at the school on Monday, angry parents demanded that all officials involved in the debacle quit – including headmaster Trinci, Hovelmeier, second deputy headmaster Andrew Sakala and Charles Msipa, chairman of the school’s board of governors. 

As tempers flared, fistfights broke out among some parents, while others had to be restrained from assaulting school officials.

In a statement, Msipa took full responsibility over the matter, saying he had taken legal advise after the Daily News enquiry and had been advised to run ahead of the story.  
Msipha said he had approved the release of the communication without board approval because the publication of the story appeared imminent. 

"On a personal level, it is my respectful view that the college should continue to strive to provide a safe, caring, inclusive, diverse and tolerant environment and space for all persons regardless of race, religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, abilities or disabilities," Msipa added.

Zimbabwe is a deeply conservative country, with Christianity the dominant religion, and homosexuality is generally frowned u

His successor Emmerson Mnangagwa -- who has been careful not to upset Western countries as he struggles with a legitimacy question over his rule after a disputed July 30 election -- has avoided expressing a personal opinion, only saying he is guided by the Constitution whenever the question arises.

African News Agency/ANA 

September 26, 2018

While Some Are Being Fired A Deputy Headmaster is Praised For Coming Out in Zimbabwe



                                         
        
 Lesbian‚ gay‚ bisexual‚ and transgender activists in Zimbabwe
 


BY JAMES THOMPSON
Lesbian‚ gay‚ bisexual‚ and transgender activists in Zimbabwe have commended the bravery of a top private school deputy headmaster for openly declaring his sexual orientation during assembly.
Dr. Neal Hovelmeier teaches at St John's College‚ one of the country's elite schools. He made the announcement to pupils at the school last week.
Hovelmeier said in a statement that he had decided to lead by example because of some of his former students' experiences. 
"I have become increasingly aware that a number of former students who gain the confidence after school to pursue their chosen orientation‚ have reported back to me experiencing an environment of intolerance‚ intimidation and homophobia while they were at school‚," he said.
The headmaster‚ Cav Trinci‚ said in solidarity that the school was open to diversity‚ be it religious‚ sexual‚ racial or disability.
Activist Ricky Nathanson from Transgender Research‚ Education‚ Advocacy and Training said the bold move by Hovelmeier was a major victory for minorities and the marginalized in Zimbabwe 
"It is encouraging to witness the bravery and honesty of Dr. Hovelmeier on his announcement of who he truly is. That takes absolute bravery‚ introspection‚ and demonstration that one needs to be true to who one really is‚" he said.
The US$2‚900 per term school is attended by the children of wealthy parents and diplomats. One notable alumnus is Robert Junior‚ the son of former president Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe once described LGBT people as "worse than dogs and pigs". During Mugabe's rule, many left the country‚ fearing persecution for their sexual orientation because homosexuality is outlawed in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe's bodyguards assaulted gay rights activist Peter Tatchell in 2001 after he tried to effect a citizen's arrest on the former president during an official visit to Brussels in Belgium. In 2013 Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu was lambasted by Mugabe for supporting same-sex relationships.
Since President Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power‚ there has been a decline in the persecution of people with different sexual orientations. In an interview on CNN with Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January‚ Mnangagwa said it was up to LGBT activists to push for their inclusion but‚, for now, ‚ the law stands.
"Those people who want it are the people who should canvass for it‚ but it's not my duty to campaign for this‚," he said.
LGBT activists feel that they enjoy greater freedom under Mnangagwa.
"But post-Mugabe we see that the current president‚ Mnangagwa‚ has tried to speak to issues towards creating spaces where people enjoy their freedoms‚ particularly that of expression and assembly‚," said Chesterfield Sambo‚ the director of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe.
HIV and sexual health issues have in recent years forced the government of Zimbabwe to give medical care to gays and lesbians. Former health minister Dr. David Parirenyatwa once said Zimbabwe should not ignore the existence of homosexuality and hide behind cultural expectations.

January 20, 2018

Another Reason to Sell Your Body in Anti Gay Zimbabwe






TAKUNDA Munashe was only 13 years old when he started selling his body to other males while living in Mtapa, a high-density suburb in Gweru, the administrative capital of the Midlands province in Zimbabwe.
Wongai Zhangazha

For Munashe, now 29 years old, it was not because he was looking for a ticket to his next meal as is usually the case in such circumstances; he simply wanted a cellphone.

He had watched some of his friends browsing from one application to the other at school — and because his parents could not get him one — he decided to get one for himself. 
 
“It is not like I was forced into sex work. I have always known that I was different, but I didn’t really know that I was gay. It was at the age of 11, that I knew I was attracted to other boys. So it was my friends who told me that they could help me if I wanted a cellphone. It was just this teenage excitement of having fun. My parents who were on separation looked after me quite well and I do not blame them for the decisions I made that time when I was young,” Munashe said.

“It was then I started getting into relationships with other males. The challenge for me that time as young as I was; was not being able to negotiate for safe sex. I was living in a small town and I was not empowered enough to seek medical care. How would I approach the nurses and tell them that I was suffering from a sexually transmitted infection? I would let it heal by itself.”

As Munashe grew older, his sexual orientation became an open secret and all hell broke loose when his parents discovered that he was dating other males in 2011.

“Being born to African parents, they were in denial. They got very angry and attributed their separation to what they termed my abnormal behavior. I was taken to prophets, traditional healers anything you can think of, but that did not change me,” he said.

“I was forced into an arranged marriage — twice — thinking that it would change my ‘behaviour’. I sired three children from the marriages. I decided that I was not being honest with my life and I left to live the person that I am, that is being gay. I think my parents have just given up.”

Munashe said with three children to fend for and with no job he found himself going back into sex work.

Zimbabwe’s economy is in the doldrums with a debilitating liquidity crunch evidenced by the acute cash shortage in the market, low capacity utilization of less than 50% and the closure of hundreds of companies from various sectors of the economy. This has resulted in the increase of the country’s unemployment rate to more than 90%.  
 
“Sometimes I visit nightclubs to get clients, but most of the time I operate via my mobile. Some of my clients just call if they want sex. I also meet my clients online. With years of experience, I don’t run out of ways of how to attract my clients.

Depending on the type of client, day and month, I take home between US$40 and US$150 per day,” Munashe said.

His job, however, comes with numerous risks. 
 
“You have not graduated from sex work if you are not raped. You have to experience rape along the way in this profession. As male sex workers, we are also attacked by female prostitutes as we will be competing for the same clients. Police also harass us and take our money and because we are male sex workers having sex with men, we are not protected unlike the female sex workers because it is taboo in this country. It can get one arrested. We are extremely discriminated.”

Munashe, who is also a devout Christian, today chairs Male Sex Workers in Zimbabwe, an advocacy group that helps gay men who are economically disadvantaged.

“I go to church almost every Sunday. I am not stealing from anyone. I see God in me and I love myself. People have to accept and love me the way I am because that is me. I am not going to change,” he said.

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz) director Chester Samba in an interview said there were a number of gay sex worker organizations that have been formed specifically to deal with how they can be empowered against a discriminative society.

The groups, including Zimbabwe Sex Workers Alliance, Male Sex Workers of Zimbabwe and Rainbow Leaders, cater for the gay sex workers’ rights and health needs.

“That is a new terrain for us, but the main challenges that the gay sex workers face in Zimbabwe are mostly health issues, the ability to negotiate for safe sex, sexually transmitted diseases and accessing health services. The attitude of nurses at public institutions is a cause for concern.

“At times nurses call each other and say come and look; we have a (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex) LGBTQI person with an STI, or some bring a Bible and throw it over their laps,” Samba said. “They also face challenges of being extorted by those they would have entered into a relationship with. Hoping to get money out of it, they expose them. Law on the criminalization of same-sex also creates problems for this community.”

The constitution guarantees rights such as equality and non-discrimination, but is silent on specific rights for LGBTI community. Zimbabwe criminalizes same-sex relations.

Former president Robert Mugabe was a fierce critic of homosexuality and was known for making homophobic statements over the years, going to the extent of describing gay people as “worse than pigs and dogs”.

The Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) director Itai Rusike told the Zimbabwe Independent that his organization subscribes to the principle of leaving no one behind in order for the country to move towards achieving universal health coverage. CWGH has branches across the country.

“The ongoing political reforms in Zimbabwe need to be part of a wider effort to realize the right to health and be a critical enabler to social justice and equity. As such while we agree that the right to health is entailed to a progressive realization we call on the new Zimbabwe government to ensure that those who are currently left behind are prioritized first,” Rusike said.

“This includes the poor, prisoners, women and children and marginalized populations, including men who have sex with men, transgender persons, drug users and sex workers, many of whom are currently denied their right to equal access to health services.”

Samba, in addition, hoped that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his new government would desist from the discriminatory remarks Mugabe used to make against the LGBTQI people.

“In 2017, we recorded quite a number of cases of harassment and intimidation on our members. However, I must also say that there was a massive decrease may be because the political players have been busy with factional fights and so forth.”

December 12, 2015

Zimbabwe’s New Constitution Protects LGBT Rights but Police, Machetes and stones can’t read




                                                                             
                                                                      


An article titled, “Government clamps down on gays” in the NewsDay edition of November 30, 2015 makes sad reading. From a human rights perspective, one wonders about the rationale behind pulling down of an exhibition stand and the confiscation of display material by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority belonging to gay rights activists attending the International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa currently underway in Harare.

It is high time Zimbabwe understands that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people are human beings like any other and should have their fundamental human rights and freedoms protected, promoted and fulfilled, especially in this era of advancing human rights.

Firstly, the government must understand that it is a reality that we do have LGBTI people in Zimbabwe, some not by choice but by nature. Secondly, it is high time that Zimbabweans understand that total denial of the recognition of LGBTI people as part of humanity is the same as denying that there is day and night. Thirdly, it is high time that Zimbabwe understands that human rights should be accorded to all human beings by virtue of being born human regardless of their sexual orientation.

Zimbabwe, thus, must quickly embrace the protection, promotion and fulfilment of the rights of LGBTI people who have endured severe violence, hate speech, discrimination and marginalisation for a long time, if we are earnestly an open and free democratic state founded on the principles of rule of law, tolerance and respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms. The issue of homophobia, though not even a new phenomenon in Zimbabwe, must be relegated to the dustbin of our history. For the past years, politicians, church leaders and court officials have vilified homosexual orientation as “un-cultural” and “a threat to nationhood”.

President Robert Mugabe is on record for lashing out at homosexuals, describing them as “worse than pigs and dogs”. 

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has not also spared LGBTI people and their representative organisations. Arbitrary arrests and detention are common experiences for LGBTI people, while police raids are the order of the day for the LGBTI representative organisations. A number of reasons ranging from religious, cultural and morality issues are given for the suppression of the rights of LGBTI people in Zimbabwe.

Lesbian couple laughs during the third annual gay pride celebrations by members of the LGBT community in Entebbe, southwest of Uganda's capital Kampala

However, the point we are driving home is that it is not necessary to have a total clamp down on LGBTI people without understanding their cause and without giving them audience and space to co-exist with their human counterparts. LGBTI people do need the same rights and equal protection, especially in these times of fighting against the deadly HIV and Aids. Zimbabwe really needs the input of LGBTI people if the war against HIV and Aids is to be won. Political bickering aside, Zimbabwe just needs tolerance towards LGBTI people because the continued denial of the reality that LGBTI people do exist is suicidal if the nation has to realise fundamental human rights and freedoms and if the nation wants to win the war against HIV and Aids.

From a legal perspective, a lot needs to be done to co-opt LGBTI people. Zimbabwe adopted a new Constitution that came into force on August 22, 2013. The non-discrimination clause in the first drafts provided for non-discrimination on the basis of “circumstances of birth”, “natural difference or condition” and “other status”. However, such grounds were rejected in the drafts the main argument advanced by then being that, such provisions could be read as including non-discrimination based on sexual orientation. The final provisions on equality and non-discrimination in the Constitution thus deliberately left out sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination.

In the circumstances, the height of suppression of the rights of LGBTI people was evidenced by the intended exclusion of sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination. Thus, the constitution-making process in Zimbabwe was full of mockery for homosexuals and the very concept of gay rights.

To exacerbate this position, the non-discrimination clause’s scope is limited due to the fact that it is a self-contained clause. In other words, the non-discrimination clause is not open-ended so as to admit grounds that are not explicitly listed.

The position would have been different for the LGBTI people if the non-discrimination clause was not exhaustive, as is the position with the non-discrimination clause of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (to which Zimbabwe is a ratifying party) or the South African Constitution, where analogous grounds of discrimination, not specifically mentioned, are also included by use of terms such as “other status” or “including” among the list of protected grounds.

The Constitution further provides that “persons of the same sex are prohibited from marrying each other”. Thus, the main problem in Zimbabwe is the definition of marriage as excluding same-sex marriages. The provisions are an explicit denial of sexual minority rights in Zimbabwe.

Be that as it may, it can still be argued that the Constitution only prohibits same-sex marriages but does not extend the prohibition to same-sex relationships. There is also no definition of what marriage entails under the Constitution.

Furthermore, LGBTI people can still find protection under other generous human rights provisions of the Constitution which are as follows; the founding values and principles under the Constitution include the recognition of fundamental human rights and freedoms. The recognition of the inherent dignity and equal worth of each human being is also provided for. In the same breadth, section 51 of the Constitution provides that every person has inherent dignity in their private and public life and the right to have their inherent dignity respected and protected. It is submitted that the Constitution extends cover to LGBTI people to that extent. The recognition of the inherent dignity and equal worth of each human being is important, especially for LGBTI people who are normally treated without dignity.

Furthermore, rights protected under the Constitution also extend protection to LGBTI people, especially the right to privacy and the right to freedom of assembly and association. It is submitted that privacy includes one’s sexual behaviour and orientation. LGBTI representative associations can also find protection under the right to freedom of association. Moreover, when interpreting the Constitution, courts of law and other tribunals are mandated to promote the values and principles that underlie a democratic society based on openness, justice, human dignity, equality and freedom. International law and all conventions that Zimbabwe is a party to have to be also taken into account when interpreting the Constitution and relevant foreign law may be considered. It is submitted that such provisions are important in that developments at the international level pertaining to the promotion, protection and fulfillment of the rights of LGBTI people are guiding principles to be applied in Zimbabwe. To that extent, the Constitution at least consolidates the rights of LGBTI people.

Similarly, the Constitution provides that freedom of expression does not include incitement of violence, advocacy of hatred or hate speech, malicious injury to a person’s reputation or dignity, malicious or unwarranted breach of a person’s right to privacy. The Constitution is, therefore, commendable in that statements like “homosexuals are worse than pigs and dogs” are to be rendered unconstitutional in Zimbabwe in that they constitute hate speech.

So without arguing from a misinformed basis, the government has to understand that there is no need to clamp down on gay rights, but rather, the solution is to promote a culture of tolerance and acceptance of the diversity of humanity. Let us all relegate the past to the past and start on a new page where LGBTI people are allowed to co-exist with others and their rights are guaranteed.

In conclusion, change at individual level is of paramount importance. Hate speech, stigma and homophobia can be changed at the individual level. It is high time that Zimbabweans recognise and respect human difference. The time is also opportune for Zimbabweans to value and accept same-sex behaviours and identities. LGBTI people are part of humanity and have equal rights and bear equal obligations to the nation. As long as the culture of denial persists, this will further fuel discrimination and the spread of HIV and Aids.

 Esau Mandipa is a lawyer and law lecturer. He writes in his individual capacity and can be contacted at esaumandipa@yahoo.com or 0773 429 047.

May 20, 2014

Zimbabwe Gays Mark their International Day in Hiding


                                                                                


In Zimbabwe, the gay community marked this month’s International Day Against Homophobia at a secrete venue in the nation’s capital, Harare,  because of on-going security threats they they say come from the from the state, where activities are criminalized. FSRN’s Garikai Chaunza attended the event held by  advocates who say the gay community is far from enjoying equal rights in the south African country.
While the International Day Against Homophobia is marked in many nations by public events and official statements about equality, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Zimbabwe held a clandestine gathering this May 17th.
Chesterfield Samba is the director of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, or GALZ, an organization that advocates for LGBT rights.
“When we try and host these activities in the cities and wherever it is always the issue about who then will be able to support such events and also issues around safety and security of people that are here,” said Samba.
Male homosexuality is a criminal offense in Zimbabwe and same sex marriage is prohibited by the constitution. Long-ruling President Robert Mugabe often uses anti-gay rhetoric in his speeches.  In his Independence Day message on April 18, Mugabe threatened to expel Western diplomats who publicly promote gay rights in Zimbabwe.
Dutch Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Gera Sneller, spoke to  reporters on the sidelines of last weekend’s  event.
“I feel that the entire discussion around the LGBTI people is still sensitive in Zimbabwe, so we have to be careful,” said Ambassador Sneller.   The Dutch diplomat continued, “Many of the people have said they experience discrimination, exclusion and we do not want to push the issue. It is about the LGBTI people who live in the society which does not accept them and we want to help them to claim their rights as citizens of Zimbabwe and as citizens of this world and to fully enjoy the rights that were given to them in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Zimbabwe is also a member.”
The country’s new constitution, which was adopted last year, guarantees freedom of association and individual privacy.
Human rights lawyer Jeremia Bhamu says the LGBT community should demand their constitutional rights through the courts.
“One of the issues that arise in the new constitution for instance is the obligation on the courts to take into account all international laws treaties and conventions to which Zimbabwe is a party,” explained Bhamu. “If that happens then it means that all international instruments that relate to minority groups can be invokes to ensure their protection.”
Zimbabwe is not alone in its policies. At least two other African nations, Uganda and Nigeria, enacted laws this year to criminalize homosexuality.
 (Image Credit: Unknown/Anonymous artist; clipping from OUT Magazine article, 1990s via Flickr Creative Commons)

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