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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

SWAZI LGBTI PEOPLE LIVE IN FEAR

A gay club has been formed in the Northern Hhohho region of Swaziland to help tackle prejudice in the kingdom.

‘The motivation to form the gay club is to address stigmatisation suffered by homosexuals who cannot find immediate safety amongst their peers, parents and the community at large,’ the Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Monday (20 June 2016).

The newspaper reported club president Nkhosinati ‘Fly’ Dlamini saying, ‘We want to inform our immediate family members and friends that we are here and proud. They must also know that we are not sick or confused it is just that we are people who want our basic human rights. We don’t want to live in fear.’

The move comes shortly after a searing condemnation of Swaziland’s violation of the rights of LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) people was made to a United Nations group.

In May 2016, Rock of Hope, which campaigns for LGBTI equality in Swaziland, reported to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review on Swaziland that laws, social stigma and prejudice prevented LGBTI organisations from operating freely.

It stated, ‘As a result, the few organisations that seek to advance the rights and welfare of LGBTI people, such as House of Our Pride and Rock of Hope, are forced to operate under a fiscal sponsor, usually a larger organisation dealing with HIV/AIDS or gender issues to avoid official scrutiny. Rock of Hope which has been successful at acquiring formal registration did so under a cloud of fear to fully disclose their full mandate and nature of their beneficiaries being LGBTI persons whose existence is denied and prohibited by the state.’

The report to the UNUPR was presented by Rock of Hope jointly with three South African-based organisations.

The report added, ‘In Swaziland sexual health rights of LGBTI are not protected. There is inequality in the access to general health care, gender affirming health care as opposed to sex affirming health care and sexual reproductive health care and rights of these persons. HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care services continue to be hetero-normative in nature only providing for specific care for men born as male and women born as female, thereby leaving out trans men and women as an unprotected population which continues to render the state’s efforts at addressing the spread and incidence of HIV within general society futile.’

The report added, ‘LGBTIs are discriminated and condemned openly by society. This is manifest in negative statements uttered by influential people in society e.g., religious, traditional and political leaders. Traditionalists and conservative Christians view LGBTIs as against Swazi tradition and religion. There have been several incidents where traditionalists and religious leaders have issued negative statements about lesbians.   

‘Human rights abuses and violations against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex population continue to go undocumented, unreported, unprosecuted and not addressed.’

It added, ‘There is no legislation recognizing LGBTIs or protecting the right to a non-heterosexual orientation and gender identity and as a result LGBTI cannot be open about their orientation or gender identity for fear of rejection and discrimination. For example, the Marriage Act, only recognizes a marriage or a union between a man and a woman. Because of the absence of a law allowing homosexuals to conclude neither marriage nor civil unions, same-sex partners cannot adopt children in Swaziland.’

The report made seven recommendations to the Swazi Government, including to review laws that undermine LGBTI persons’ rights in particular and human rights in general especially as they conflict with the Constitution; and to ensure prosecution of State agents who commit human rights violations against LGBTI individuals and their organizations.   

See also

LESBIAN AND GAY MURDERS IN SWAZILAND
           
SWAZI MINISTER LIES TO UN ON GAYS
GAY PREJUDICE RIFE IN SWAZILAND
COMMUNITY POLICE BANISH GAY MEN

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