Police banished two men from their community in Swaziland because they were gay.
The men, one aged 18 and the other 21, moved from the Lubombo region to Mvutshini to stay with the aunt of one of them.
Neighbours became suspicious about the relationship between the two men and when confronted they readily agreed they were gay.
The aunt then reported them to the community police.
The Swazi News, an independent newspaper, reported, ‘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.’
The following day the two men left the area.
The aunt told the newspaper, ‘I was afraid of being labelled all sorts of names in the area and be accused of harbouring gay people in my house. My other problem was that local men would have ended up quarrelling with their wives and resorted to being gay because of the boys living under my roof.’
Sicelo Vilane, a member of the community police, told the newspaper the community was increasingly getting worried about growing ‘bad tendencies’ in the area and, ‘they, together with responsible residents, were on a mission of getting rid of all bad elements’.
Homosexuality is illegal in Swaziland. In November 2011, Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, 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 LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.
Gamedze also told the United Nations that while consensual same-sex relations were illegal in Swaziland, the Government did not pursue prosecutions.
Discrimination against gay and lesbian people in Swaziland is rife and extends to workplaces, the churches and on to the streets.
HOOP (House of Our Pride), a support group for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Inter-sex (GLBTI) people, reported to the United Nation in 2011, ‘It is a common scene for GLBTI to be verbally insulted by by-passers in public places. [There is] defamatory name calling and people yelling out to see a GLBTI person’s reproductive part are some of the issues facing GLBTI in Swaziland.’
‘Faith houses have been known to discriminate against GLBTI, advocating for the alienation of GLBTI in the family and society, while maintaining that these GLBTI are possessed by demons.’ HOOP also said GLBTI people were often discriminated against at work and there had been well known cases of this.
In one of the first reports of its kind detailing sexual orientation discrimination in Swaziland, HOOP revealed, ‘GLBTI 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 GLBTI people if they reported they have been victims of violent crime, HOOP said.
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