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Monday, 23 March 2015

LESBIAN AND GAY MURDERS IN SWAZILAND

The separate murders of a lesbian woman and a gay man in Nhlangano, Swaziland, have drawn attention to the prejudice faced by homosexuals in the kingdom.

On 15 March 2015, Kaylo Glover, aged 26, was killed with an axe by a man in a bar because she was lesbian, the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) group Iranti-org reported. A few months earlier a gay man known as Themba was also murdered in Nhlangano.

Jabu Pereira, the director of Iranti-org, which documents human-rights violations and advocates for the rights of lesbians and transgender people in Africa, reported Glover was killed by an enraged man who did not want to be in the presence of lesbians. 

Pereira reported, ‘He left the bar, fetched an axe from his car, returned and killed Kaylo. Kaylo was rushed to hospital and her killers followed them to the hospital and chased her friends with [an] axe. 


Kaylo’s friend ran as she heard one of the guys shout “let’s finish off these dogs”. Neither the nurses nor the doctors could reach Kaylo in time, she bled to death.’

Pereira said, ‘It seems Kaylo’s death has broken the silence around hate crimes in Swaziland. It is bringing attention to the poor human-rights situation in this country, where the monarch is so incredibly rich and its citizens are poor and where LGBTI persons live hidden, framed as “the other”.’

Swaziland has a poor history supporting LGBTI rights. In November 2011, Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, the Acting Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, said Swaziland would not give human rights to gay people, because they did not exist in the kingdom. 

Gamedze was responding to criticism of Swaziland by a United Nations working group on human rights that said the kingdom should enact equality laws for LGBTI people.

Earlier, Gamedze had lied to the United Nations when he said that gays and lesbians in the kingdom had not asked for repressive laws to be overturned. 

The official summary of working party of the Universal Periodical Review of human rights in Swaziland held on 4 October 2011 stated, ‘Mr Gamedze specifically addressed the issues of same-sex relationships and the death penalty [two separate issues]. He noted that while consensual same-sex relations are illegal in Swaziland, the Government does not pursue prosecutions. He also claimed that so far the LGBTI movement in Swaziland had not challenged these policies and clarified that the Government would only look into these issues if and when this happened.’

In fact, an organisation called HOOP (House of Our Pride) had submitted a report to the same UN inquiry that Gamedze was responding to. It listed a range of discriminations that LGBTI people in Swaziland suffered, including in faith groups, at work and through police harassment. 

In a list of recommendations to the government, HOOP included:

‘LGBTI activities should be decriminalized and given due recognition in the society.

‘The government of Swaziland should bring into place laws that protect LGBTI people’s rights at workplaces, social, faith and community gatherings and also protect their right to inherit their partner’s belonging, if willed to them on their partner’s passing away. The above law should be strictly enforced and culprits severely punished.’

In its report HOOP said, ‘It is a common scene for LGBTI to be verbally insulted by by-passers in public places. [There is] defamatory name calling and people yelling out to see a LGBTI person’s reproductive part are some of the issues facing LGBTI in Swaziland.’

‘Faith houses have been known to discriminate against LGBTI, advocating for the alienation of LGBTI in the family and society, while maintaining that these LGBTI are possessed by demons.’

In one of the first reports of its kind detailing sexual orientation discrimination in Swaziland, HOOP revealed, ‘LGBTI are hugely discriminated against in the community, as they are not recognized at community meetings and their points are often not minuted at these meetings nor are they allowed to take part in community services.’

Police often ridiculed LGBTI people if they report they have been victims of violent crime, Hoop reported.

Local communities in Swaziland also discriminate against LGBTI people. In October 2013, it was reported that community police banished two men from Lubombo because they were gay.

The Swazi News reported at the time, ‘A meeting was convened where the boys were called to explain their lifestyle. They confirmed that they were gay and that is when they were ordered to immediately leave the area.’
See also
           
SWAZI MINISTER LIES TO UN ON GAYS
GAY PREJUDICE RIFE IN SWAZILAND
SWAZILAND HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT
COMMUNITY POLICE BANISH GAY MEN
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2010/01/press-vilified-over-lesbians-death.html

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