IV. "NOWHERE IS REALLY SAFE": VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT BY NON-STATE ACTORS
A. Carlos' Story
Carlos Mpofu, from Bulowayo, Zimbabwe, was twenty years old when our researcher spoke to him in 2000.
I first realized about my sexuality when I was about twelve. I realized I wasn't attracted to girls: my first wet dream wasn't with a girl, but a man. It first made me think of the sexual side, and what side I was on. And then I was always a feminine child. But I didn't have a word for it. The only word I knew was incubikile-an Ndebele word, but it wasn't specific for gays, it meant anyone who was handicapped or deformed.30
Later I found out there were older words that had always been used for people like me: isitabane or isikesane. But I didn't know that then.
I only started doing anything about it seven years later, when I was nineteen. I've only been openly gay to my family and society for one and a half years. It has been exacting; it has had its ups and downs. There were glorious moments and moments when I thought, "Why did I come out? I want to die." I've done so much. I told myself I was coming out to fight for gay rights. I wanted to be in the forefront of the battle. I am not a coward. My being in the community has a reason to it. I've done things faster than other people who have been out for five years.
I come from a family of three children-two boys, one girl, I'm the middle child. My father was a soldier, a normal middle-class family, very Pentecostal. My parents divorced when I was twelve, my mother remarried. I was already becoming rebellious. I was still in primary school, an all-boys' school. They could tolerate a bit of femininity in one or two boys; they had a slot for it.
But I was so feminine it was a problem with the teachers. And I had even more problems in high school, when I reached thirteen. Other boys already knew what being gay was all about. I was just finding out; the words scared the shit out of me.
In my second year of high school I became active in a church. Beyond services, I went to Sunday school and youth meetings. My "feminism" was not an issue there. They didn't notice it so much at first, for some reason. I was precocious and very intelligent. I challenged the pastors and directors of the church. As I got more involved, my family worried less about the feminine thing; they took it as a phase.
While in high school I was also doing a diploma in Bible school with the church, to get me ready for church leadership; and I went through all well. In the church I was given a position as a junior youth leader, leading 250 kids between eight and fifteen. I was seventeen. I became a very prominent Sunday school teacher; my church was one of the biggest in the city.
It was a hectic three years but the best I ever had in my life. Everything was moving smoothly. And then I got a job as secretary to the pastor, one of the best-known pastors in the city. I was promoted to be administrative clerk of the church school, and I did both jobs simultaneously.
And then in 1997 people started talking about me again, how feminine I was. I guess as I grew older they started to notice more. A girl and I started a Pentecostal dance group; it was a girl's troupe, but I became a "temple dancer" too. Then people really started attacking me. That went too far. "Why is this young man as graceful as a young lady?" In 1998 my parents became more worried. And late that year things got more serious.
In September one lady with a child in my class complained to the pastor. She went to him and said she had a problem with one of the Sunday school teachers; I was too feminine for her son. He was eight or nine, and impressionable, she was afraid I would molest him, or I already had. The pastor didn't believe it. He called a meeting, and decided all the talk about me was children's gossip.
But I was singled out and stigmatized within the church after that. Members of the congregation would go to teenagers I taught and say, "Be careful of Mr. Mpofu, he's gay, he might molest you." I only heard about this talk a month or more later. In December 1998, there was another incident. There was a Man's Network, a social group within the church. One man in it accused me of staring too hard at him. That made my reputation even worse.
Meanwhile, in high school I had just begun inching toward acting on my feelings. I had started dating my O-level teacher. I never had real sexual contact, just small stuff; and we never even discussed the fact that we were both gay. But we knew that we enjoyed each other's company. He was much older. We broke off for a while, because we were frightened. But in December 1998, we reconciled. One night early in the next year we went out; we were holding hands and cuddling, sort of, at a movie house. One of my workmates was in the theater, a fellow teacher at the church school.
On Monday, I went back to work and Pastor Bismarck called me in. He said, "I have heard a very disturbing thing and I want to discuss it with you."
I was fired on the spot for being gay. They "preaccused" me of things they thought I would do to schoolkids-molest them or corrupt them. They said they had to fire me to prevent that. I lost both jobs within ten minutes, and all my positions within the church. My boss took me to my parents, and told them he had seen me "growing gay." So then the problems with my family began as well. That was the most painful and important incident about being gay, which made me realize who I am.
My life in church was like I was in a marriage, and got jilted by the husband. Christians shouldn't act like that. I always want to tell people, don't expect sympathy from the church if you are gay.
I was suicidal for about a month. I attempted to commit suicide; but my friends found me and revived me.
I had heard on and off about GALZ, and wondered whether to join. I finally called them, after hours of agonizing. I didn't tell them my story, just asked to join. They told me about GLOM here [Gays and Lesbians of Matabeleland, a small, newly formed Bulawayo group associated with GALZ], and I got involved.
My parents wanted to ignore the whole thing. For two months the issue was never mentioned at home. My mother stopped speaking to me. But by May I was involved with gay parties and functions in Bulawayo.
In June I fell in love. We made the mistake of being too careless. We did the kinds of crazy things you do when you are in love. Bulawayo is a small city and my mother was well known. My elder brother's girlfriend saw us kissing in town. This was the beginning of the biggest family problems at home.
My parents were told. They wanted to chase me out of the home. When they decided they couldn't do that, they banned me from leaving the house. I was in college again after losing my job, taking computer courses, but I had to drop out because I couldn't leave home to go. My father, my mother, and my stepfather all tried to force me to go to the rural areas for forced marriage, and to receive treatments to drive out the spirits. They finally gave it up: but they kept a close leash on me. In July/August I decided to move to Harare, to stay with GALZ. I had to find an excuse to leave town, and finally I told my parents I had a training course in management; a friend forged a letter of invitation.
Slowly, while I was away, my mother was coming to accept my gayness. I only came back to Bulawayo in December. I came back to look after my mother, who was very sick. My elder brother couldn't-he was a soldier in Gweru.
But then my mother got extremely ill, and my relations took advantage of the opportunity to chase me out of the house again. So in January 2000 I was on the streets again.
I was very depressed again. I moved out of the house permanently, and became a heavy drinker. My home became the nightclubs; in the day I slept at my friend "Teresa's" place. I went way down below zero. I became down and out, in the dumps, as we say in gay circles. I was very promiscuous, in and out of everybody's bed, leading a very dangerous life. I began to realize the type of gay men we have in the city. I had no contact with my family for a while; I stopped thinking about HIV/AIDS; I knew all the blackmailers. I attempted suicide again.
The time when "Teresa" was blackmailed and arrested was very hard for me [see Chapter III]. That was when I first realized how homophobia was everywhere around us.
There was a time in March 2000 when the police tried to arrest me and a friend of mine for standing outside a nightclub, the Sun City club in Bulawayo. There were plenty of men lined up outside the nightclub. But they singled me and my friend out, and wanted to arrest us for "soliciting for prostitution." I stood up for myself: "You cannot do this to someone just for standing outside a nightclub, and say it is soliciting." Being articulate and aware of my rights helped to save us.
I had always been beaten up by other boys for being too much a girl. And it got worse as I grew older. Even prior to joining GLOM I was beaten up one or two times a month. When I was still working for Pastor Bismarck I went to visit my grandmother in the locations, and I was beaten up by a pack of guys who called me gay.
But when I joined GLOM it really got bad. They hated to see groups of us gays together. In July 1999 "Teresa," Lionel, and I had gone on errand to hand-deliver mail to some GLOM members in the locations. It was around 8:00 in the evening in Entumbane [a high-density suburb of Bulawayo]. A mob of people, ten or fifteen of them, started chasing us, throwing stones and calling us names. They were still a ways away when they started throwing stones, and we managed to escape: we ran and hid in the bushes.
And one Sunday morning in April 2000, in broad daylight, Lionel and "Teresa" and I were walking near the Pie City in the center of town. I got hit by three guys who said, "You are gay, we have seen you in the clubs." And to me they said, "You thought you were too good to talk to us." They hit me and I hit back. I got a burst lip and lots of bruises. I went to the police and reported it at Bulawayo Central. They seemed helpful at first; but they never followed it up.
I would keep on reporting to the police when I am beaten up again. Why? Because I believe it's my right and their duty. The same group of people do it again and again. I want them to know we are not afraid. We can use open spaces, be it hospitals or streets or police stations. We can use those spaces freely.
A lot of bad things happen here around the GLOM Center-we rent this house on the line between two districts in Bulawayo, with Bellevue on the one side and Nketa on the other. Bellevue is lower-density and more peaceful, but Nketa is pretty rough. There are a lot of young guys there with time on their hands. They know the center is here, and they hate us and harass us all the time.
"Teresa" and Dominic and I had a mob come after us in June 2000, trying to beat us up for being gay. It was 7 or 8 p.m., after dark. There were about thirty of them, some with bricks, sharp objects, chains; others were throwing stones. "Teresa" had to jump in a moving vehicle. Dominic and I ran in opposite directions. We had just come from the shops-we used to go to the nearest shops, in Nketa, back then. We have stopped going over there since; we will walk the two kilometers to Bellevue to shop instead.
My mother died in April. I wasn't there, I didn't know.
Life is hard. I realize how many people hate us for being homosexual, even our own blood. And I have to wonder why.
By now everyone in Zimbabwe knows that homosexuality exists. If you ever went to a boys' school or stayed in a hostel, and say you never played "hide under the pillow," you are lying. At boys' school there was always a homosexual performance going on. It just was not spoken about. I was known as the queen of the school. I used to have boys carry my bags to my next lesson. They would come for sexual favors, of a sort. "Disgusting," some of them would say by day, and tease me; and at night they would say, "Let's play Wrestlemania II!" and we'd rub our private parts together.
Men can do anything! The things I've proved and seen. At church I saw all the secrets. It's not the sex they hate us for, it's our freedom about it, freedom to be womanly, to be what we are.
They can beat me up, but I will get up and walk down the street. And there will be more and more liberated queens, as we liberate what is inside all the people of Zimbabwe. I believe Chaka was gay, the greatest African leader in southern Africa. It has always been there.
I want to help empower gay men. The stigma is within us, the violence is within us. I want the future generations to find things better: not worse laws, worse politicians. That is my dream.31
Carlos Mpofu died in 2002.
B. Visibility, Violence, Discrimination
Carlos' story illustrates the threat of abuse that many self-identified gays and lesbians face. It shows the multiple spheres in which violence and discrimination can be found. State authorities, under such conditions, have an obligation to respond-to offer redress for violations, and to punish the offenders-but also to prevent violations, by supporting and sustaining an atmosphere of respect for rights and understanding. Carlos' story indicts the failure of the state to act.
Throughout southern Africa, wherever sodomy laws survive and politicians exploit homophobia, self-described gays and lesbians have struggled to win political and social visibility. In some places they have achieved triumphs. Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), for example, has carved out a place for itself and for its constituences in the political sphere: and it can rightly take credit for creating a new sense of tolerance in some urban and educated circles.32 Even many successes, however, have been mixed blessings. Consciousness has been raised; understanding often has not. The idea that gays and lesbians exist has (with the help of state leaders' rhetoric) been hammered into public awareness; but often this has fed the suspicions of neighbors, parents, and strangers alike, encouraging each to hunt down traces of homosexuality in their communities, vicinities, and homes.
In many places, non-state actors continue to act out the mandates given by state leaders: to "eliminate" gays and lesbians, to treat them like "animals," to "fight against the enemy," to "condemn" and "reject" homosexuals. Those who hide their difference still find the fear of violence haunts them.
Looking back on the last twenty years in her country, Tina Machida traces a dangerous transition-from a time when same-sex relations were fitted, however uneasily, into existing categorizations of kinship, to a time when they have come to represent everything threatening those traditional ties:
In the 1970s and 1980s, people were walking in same-sex couples in public all the time: it was no problem. People called them "aunties," "cousins." They didn't know the words "gay" or "lesbian" and didn't come out in response so strongly, so violently.
But now lots of people are more aware of what is going on. After the visibility came suspicion.
There is lots more gay-bashing now than before. On the other hand, when it comes to family, some families are actually trying to understand. If there is someone who can educate them, talk to them, some families are willing to listen. But not all. Sometimes there is no one to do the teaching. And some families just chase away their children without hearing a word.33
This chapter will describe how violence and abuse are inflicted, and how they are felt, in a range of spheres: in the community; in other spaces, including workplaces, churches, and the gathering places where gays and lesbians can meet; and in the family.
In southern Africa, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people who speak out-whose identities and difference are known, through the press or through their political activity-may find their physical safety or even their lives in danger.
Three stories from Zimbabwe, where the political visibility of gays and lesbians has been perhaps highest but hardest won, show the pattern.
When Poliyana Mangwiro of GALZ looked back in 2000 on her long and courageous career as a lesbian voice and organizer, few things were more memorable than her coming out, which she called "one for the history books":
In 1996, at the second book fair, I came out to the Zimbabwean public and to my family. I didn't know it would cause so much controversy! I just wanted to get up and say who I am. I came out in Harare Gardens, in the press ... with everyone talking about ngochani. I never expected that.34
Poliyana was a volunteer at GALZ's stand at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair. As already described above, GALZ's participation was embattled on two fronts that year, facing challenges from the government as well as threats from hostile onlookers. Friday, August 2 was a public day at the fair. GALZ was soon forced to abandon its stand by menacing crowds. Before then, however, Mangwiro was photographed at the stand by the press, as well as by students who were visiting the fair from the high school in her home community, Marondera, a small town some sixty-five kilometers from Harare.
According to Mangwiro, the students "took the pictures they had taken of me back home and showed them to the ZANU-PF Youth League and the [ZANU-PF] Women's League."35 Mangwiro had been active in both, and the chair of the former. Outraged, the group members organized a frightening reception for her on her return.
On August 3, Mangwiro took a bus back to Marondera, arriving in the evening. "There were a lot of people by my lodging, singing and waving placards written with pasi nengochani [down with homosexuals]. They were threatening the owner of the house where I stay, wanting her to throw me out or they would destroy the house."36
Mangwiro's family had already left. The crowd began to threaten her with physical violence. She left the scene, found a public phone, and called Keith Goddard, GALZ's programmes manager in Harare. "I told him my life was threatened."37 Since the phone was near the municipality offices, she also went to see the governor, Edward Garwe. "Governor Garwe advised me to leave Marondera for a while until things became more settled."38
The demonstrators prevented Mangwiro from entering her home to get her clothes or belongings. They pursued her to the bus stop, "shouting and throwing stones, humiliating me until I got in the bus."39 She returned to Harare, where GALZ lodged her in a hotel for a time; she then stayed with relations in other rural areas for two weeks.
When she eventually returned to Marondera, she told our researcher, "nothing happened now: people just pointed fingers on the streets, and said `That ngochani,' so that I could hear, or: `Are you still with your girlfriend?' But neither the tuck shops nor the main shops would sell me anything." Although she had an account with Topics, a large chain store, they refused to allow her to settle it: "They said they wouldn't take gay money."40
Mangwiro stayed part time in Marondera for several years, moving back to Harare in 1998. "Toward the end in Marondera, people were OK, coming to me and asking about my girlfriend, but genuinely this time. But I was still very scared to go out at night, ever."
Mangwiro saw signs of hope in her experience:
It showed that people need someone to educate them about homosexuality. Now they say, "We know what a lesbian or gay is, we didn't before." But you can't educate through normal channels, like schools: they will say you are recruiting. I believe you can do it though HIV/AIDS work. It helps to raise the issue.41
Dumisani Dube, twenty-eight when our researcher spoke to him in 2000, tells a similar story of how publicity awakened public paranoia. Formerly a teacher, Dube joined GALZ in 1998 after attending a safer-sex workshop, and quickly became a leader, serving as volunteer publications officer. In 1999, Dube bravely decided to give a newspaper interview about his homosexuality and his work. He did so, he says, because "I wanted to work for the day when homosexuality can be accepted not as a lifestyle but as a life. Some people think that gays are only black people who sleep with white people for money. A lifestyle is something you choose to get into. A life is something you are born with, something that is in you, something that is natural."42
The interview, with Dube's photo, appeared in September 1999. It was generally sympathetic:
The charming and confident 17 year old [sic] Dumisani Macdonald Dube describes himself as a man who loves other men.
"In short, it means I am gay and that's no easy life in Zimbabwe, where homosexuals are being scorned," says Dumi, one of the few Zimbabweans who have broken the silence about their sexuality.
Dumi who has a BA degree in industrial psychology from South Africa has refused to be a prisoner in a society which does not still tolerate same sex relationships. He says, he is not different but merely misunderstood, discriminated and victimised. And he is challenging people's perceptions everywhere.43
About two weeks later, Dube says, "the problems started."
I was living in Highfield [a suburb of Harare]. I had a friend-he was not gay but he and his friends knew I was gay. He used to come to my house for a couple of drinks.
Then suddenly one day his sister appeared in front of my gate and started shouting. It was a weekend, my landlord had gone to the rural areas. She had brought some of her friends along, and a couple of them were real thugs. She was shouting, "You homosexual, don't talk to my brother! I want this homosexual out of the neighborhood!" A crowd started to gather.
One of the thugs, he tried to get in the house. The door was locked, so he kicked it in. I ran away, out the back door. They got hold of two of my friends; one was my partner. They broke his spectacles, and they beat up the other guy around the head till he was bleeding from the forehead.
When the landlord came back, he made me move out of the house. One of my friends told me, "Don't go into town: we hear people saying in the shops, `If we see him again, we will beat him.'" So I stayed with my grandmother and uncle; then some of the same people came to tell my grandmother that I was gay. My uncle was also against that. He started shouting. He would get drunk at night and scream, "I don't want to stay with a homosexual, homosexuals out of my house." So I had to move again and I went to stay with a cousin in Harare.
That was also in Highfield. Then one day ten guys came to the house, including a brother of that guy whose sister had started the trouble. They said, "We want you to come to our house and apologize to the mother of this guy." They were very threatening, so I had to go. I went with my cousin's brother's wife, for safety. They were threatening to hit me all the way. I had to apologize to the mother for talking to her son, and say: "I am gay but don't worry, he is not gay."
On the night his door was broken down, Dube went to the police station in Highfield to report the incident. However, "The sister and the guy who kicked the door down had told me that they had gone to the police too, to report me for being gay." Dube says he was "nervous" about contacting the police. However, officers said they had received no reports of homosexuals in the neighborhood.
The next day I also went to Harare Central Police Station to report about it. I wanted them to make the guy pay for the breaking of the door, since my landlord was making me pay for it. I gave them the names of the offenders. But I never got a response, though I have gone back several times.
Dube and his partner took extra precautions after the incident. "We were living separately but we spent nights together. But every time we returned to where we lived, we took a very long way. We didn't want people to see us walking together in public."
Lots of gays are abused. If the police would cooperate, GALZ would have a way of breaking through to courts and getting some punishment, or protection: but police don't act because they are afraid of standing up for homosexuals. If a policeman stands up for homosexuals, they will say, "You are homosexual yourself." Because of the state of homophobia, giving counselling to people who have been through violence is all GALZ can do.44
In 1999, the Mugabe government in Zimbabwe created a Constitutional Commission to revise the country's nearly two-decade-old constitution, which had been negotiated at the end of the liberation struggle. The so-called Lancaster House constitution had been successively amended to increase the power of the executive and diminish opportunities for opposition. The commission was Mugabe's response to pressures from a broad civil society coalition to replace the document with a more democratic one.
It quickly became clear that the process was unlikely to accommodate those demands. Mugabe packed the commission with supporters of his ZANU-PF party; in response, the coalition which had pressed for change refused to participate. However, GALZ chose to request a voice in the process. It had little hope that the commission would produce a progressive constitution, but wanted to call the government to account on its promises that new protections against discrimination would be included. GALZ received no response to its request for a place on the commission.45 However, it produced a detailed submission on sexual orientation and human rights. It also sent four of its members to testify at a commission hearing-a historic opportunity to stand up and speak out.
Sikhanyisiwe Ngwenya, a twenty-three-year-old lesbian, was the first representative. Predictably, her speech, short but unequivocal, did not just set a precedent-as the first address by an out black lesbian to a political gathering in Zimbabwe-but sparked an uproar. When the slight but strong-voiced Ngwenya introduced herself and said, "I am a Zimbabwean lesbian," the outbursts began. "All Satanic!" some shouted. "We do not like that in Africa!" When the chair called for order, hecklers cried, "No order with lesbians!"46 With difficulty, Ngwenya went on to say:
I would like for the new Constitution to include the rights of lesbians in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe as a nation must accept the fact that there are lesbians in Zimbabwe from all races and creeds and I am one of them.
Discrimination against women is high in Zimbabwe and as lesbians we are made to suffer even more than the ordinary women. As a person I have the right to my sexual preference and that should not be used to discriminate against me....
Nobody taught me to be lesbian. I have always been lesbian and always will be lesbian. I knew I was lesbian when I was 12 years old. I have no problems with being lesbian and I am proud to be a black lesbian in Zimbabwe. Many people say that people like me don't exist. Well, here is living proof that we do and I am not the only one.47
Our researcher spoke to Ngwenya, known to her friends as "Ska," some nine months after her historic appearance. She said,
I've been out for years now. It's been great, but there were a lot of problems. People and the government don't understand.
It was great for myself and for other gay people when I came out as a black person who was a lesbian. People started to realize that we are here.
I came out to myself and to my friends-not to my parents-before the Gay Games in 1998. I got a scholarship, I went to the Gay Games to play. I play soccer and I just told my father that I was going to Amsterdam for a soccer match. Someone told him what kind of match it was. After I got back from Amsterdam I was kicked out of the house.
My father was eventually transferred to work in Bulawayo, and my mother told me then to come back home. Till then, I stayed with an auntie. But that wasn't all that happened. I played for the national women's soccer team. And then I was fired, kicked off that, at the end of 1998. The coach came to me and said, we've had a meeting about you-the chairperson, secretary, treasurer, and coach of the team-and you are a lesbian and people know it and we do not want people to think that all women on the team are lesbians. He said, we do not think it is right for a woman like you to be on the team. He wouldn't put it in writing. Keith [Goddard] told me to ask for an official letter, but they refused. I thought about something legal, but suing would not have helped. You know, the government here hates homosexuals.
My mother was supportive then. I stayed in her house till the end of 1999 when I appeared before the Constitutional Commission. I decided to go and present on behalf of gays and lesbians.
I testified before the commission because I wanted the people of Zimbabwe and the world to know that there are lesbians in Zimbabwe, that we do exist. I wanted to fight for my rights. I came out a lot then: I was on T.V., in the newspapers, on CNN and the BBC.
When we started to present our case, some of the commission were shouting, "You are not normal." There was a big uproar. The head of the commission said, "Be quiet, we invited these people to give their presentation." But they wouldn't shut up. It wasn't a big audience, forty or fifty people. But some of them were supportive: they actually clapped when I was done.
But my father had moved back into Harare then. He kicked me out afterward. He beat me up bad, and told me to go away. I came to stay at GALZ.
It was really uncomfortable; I had no money. I moved in with an American friend for a while, but she went back to the U.S. and I was stranded again. Now I still live at GALZ.
After I came out on T.V., four or five days later, I was coming home from Arcadia one evening around 9 p.m. There is a hotel called the Hotel Elizabeth. These two guys come running up to me on the street outside the hotel. "We are policemen. Show us your I.D." I said, can you show me something to prove you are policemen? They laughed.
No, I don't believe they were police. They decided to beat me. One was holding me, one was slapping me. They took Z$1,400 [U.S.$40] and my I.D. And they were saying, "You lesbian, we know you, we saw you on T.V. What do you want, our girlfriends, our wives? What do you think they will think of you? Aren't you ashamed of yourself?"
I went to the police in the morning, Harare Central. They said, "Why didn't you defend yourself?" That was all. There was nothing I could do. The police knew I was a lesbian. When we started the GALZ office, they would come to it every day, almost. The officer knew me. There was nothing I could do.
I didn't go to the doctor because I didn't have money. It happens often to GALZ people, you are beaten up by teams or pairs of guys. When you go to the police, they do nothing.
The other time it was bad for me was after Peter Tatchell [whose attempted citizen's arrest of Zimbabwe's president in London in October 1999 is described above]. I was in town in the CBD [central business district]. It was about 4 p.m. These other guys, I think they knew me from T.V. They started shouting at me, "Our president has been arrested in London because of gay people in Zimbabwe. You are sending these people to attack our president. We are going to kill all you gays in Zimbabwe." They came after me and they were going to beat me, but I ran away.
People here know me, they know I am lesbian. Sometimes I am very scared to go into town; I try not to walk or travel by myself. If I try to find a job, I can't, because everybody knows me; I can't find accomodation either. It is very hard.48
Mangwiro's, Dube's, and Ngwenya's stories exemplify the consequences of speaking out. Yet one does not need media attention to incur community harassment: the dubious celebrity which photos or headlines confer are not the only routes toward facing retaliation.
Communities throughout southern Africa monitor the behavior of their members. The daily lives of gays and lesbians exist under a collective scrutiny which is always intimidating, and often directly menacing. Many tell stories of how "the people you hang around with"; appearance or behavior, one's "walk" or "look"; or simply the power of rumor are enough to make one suspect, and mark one as a target.
In Windhoek, Namibia, Wendell, a young gay man, speaks of how he has learned to censor his own behavior-and even his purchases:
You know, we don't have things like gay-friendly bars, gay-friendly shops-we don't have things that are very gay-friendly here in Namibia. Even if you want to buy a feminine kind of pants, you have to say you know this is for my girlfriend that I'm buying-that's really sad, really sad.
I cannot even wear the clothes I want to wear, whether it be very tight jeans with a tight top or whatever. I can't-I have to be choosy whenever I go to a shop.... It is kind of depressing just to go through all those processes-you know, you have to pretend in order to be in safe surroundings. We've been doing a lot of acting.49
Derrick, who directs The Rainbow Project's youth outreach in Namibia, says,
Certain places, you really have to put your gay attitude to one side, because you really think this is not a safe place. And then you have to really try to look like a boy. "Oh, you don't smoke?" You have to take a cigarette and act like one, you see. And then walking down the street, you will get two or three guys telling you, "Moffie! Moffie!"50
Two factors were often cited as contributing to community violence and harassment: first, the populist power of a rhetoric of cultural traditionalism; and second, the rigidity of norms of gender.
Paul, a student in Zimbabwe, spoke of the first in describing to our researcher how tradition turned to exclusion:
Mugabe says he is only trying to follow African traditional culture. But in that culture parents wouldn't throw you out of the home because you are gay, neighbors wouldn't beat you up for it. I think what is traditional is simply not to talk about it. Mugabe was the one who started to talk about it. What is traditional would be to turn away and close your mouth.
But now it's all different. Some parents would say, this is a Western thing and would disown you from the family. They would chase you away from home. Some families and communities have lost their identity, don't know whether they live in an English way of life or an African way of life. Older, middle-aged people-for them we gays stand for something they have lost. They look at us and think they see all the reasons they have lost it.51
The fear of being marked as a cultural outcast is profound. In Namibia, again and again, people we interviewed returned to the president's threat to deport them, which seemed to symbolize the devastating state of being written out of a community. Derrick told us:
They say that gays and lesbians must be eliminated from the face of Namibia.... And when I hear that on the television, me and my parents were watching there, I could just see the atmosphere in the house was not that nice. I stood up and go to my room and I was really crying, not crying, but I could feel the tears on my face-it was like a slap in the face.52
Wendell, in Windhoek, says:
When I first heard it, I was very afraid because of the fact that they want to deport us.... I thought about my friend that I know that teaches, and these friends who are engineers, and I was thinking now if people are removed from these places, what happens to society, what happens? And I even thought about myself,... well, if I'm taken away, how is this going to affect my family, how is my mom going to live with that, seeing that her son is being taken to another place, and she has to say yes to that because of the government thing.
At first I was very afraid. But then I decided for myself that I would not mind if somebody would come to attack me or anything. I would just say I'm still gay and it is what is within me. I should not hide it. I have lived my life as an open book.53
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in southern Africa also affirm, again and again, that words exist in their indigenous languages to describe them. Those words may not be synonymous with "gay" or coterminous with the concept of sexuality; some of them may describe acts and not identities, or ritual functions rather than modern social roles; but their existence at least shows, people argue, that the conduct did not come with the colonial invasion. And to many, that is a crucial reassurance.
Francis Chisambisha says that in Zambia's Northern Province, a man who had sex with men was called chimbusi kayupe-"a male hyena which marries itself." In Botswana, Ronza says that "I am a Tswana. In our culture, they have got a name for gay. They call it-it's a bit vulgar-they call it a matanyola. But there is no word for women, that word is for men." A leader of Botswana's LEGABIBO adds,
I find it strange-these claims that homosexuality has never existed before the white man came. But there is actually a word for that in Tswana. So where did that word come from? The word that they use, the old proper Tswana word, is matanyola, which basically just means anal sex. In fact, most Botswana guys who are straight will engage in certain circumstances in bi sex, because they don't think of it as being anything, just doing it. It's been going on for centuries. But the word that is being used now is just "gay."54
One Namibian writer asked his father about the meaning of the word eshenge in his mother tongue, Oshiwambo:
After a giggle of embarassment, my father replied. "He who is being approached from behind." I could hear my father praying that I wouldn't ask for an explanation. "Did you also grow up with them, or did they only appear in our generation?" I asked.
"They have been around-since the beginning of time!" my father replied. "These are people who were created by God, and they should just be left alone!"55
Ramashala, in Windhoek, insists that, in Namibia's cultures, "Homosexuality was there, it was there in the beginning and it's still there today-and will continue to be there tomorrow." Yet he also looks to broader solidarities: asked by an IGLHRC interviewer, "Do you think being gay is an African thing?" he says, "No: being gay is a global thing."56
Beyond the rhetoric of cultural exclusion, a second key factor behind the assaults is gender-the policing, and punishment, of people who do not behave as "men" or "women" are supposed to do. The kind of sex the victims have may matter less than their looks and demeanor. Our researcher asked Carlos Mpofu why he believes he has been the object of physical attacks: do his attackers target him for what they believe is his sexual behavior, or for the fact of his effeminacy?
I think it is both. Some of them, when they see me or "Teresa," think, "He is walking like a woman, he has sex with men." With others, it is an ego thing. They think, "I am a man, he is acting like a woman, he is insulting my manhood." It is all about their ego at the end of the day.
But the second one is predominant. By now everybody knows there is homosexual activity. Some of the ones who beat you on a Sunday have been doing it on a Saturday night! But they still think they are men. It is the effeminacy they object to. I am a liberated queen, and I enjoy flaunting it.57
Being a "liberated queen" is an important part of being "gay" for many gay Zimbabwean men. Within GALZ, a group of "liberated queens" have formed a sub-group called "Chengetanai"-in Shona, "to take care of each other." It is for men who claim the right to be effeminate by society's definition, in manner or in dress. Each October, GALZ and the Chengetanai hold a drag pageant to choose a new queen of drag queens, the "Jacaranda Queen"; it is, several people said, "the event of the social season."
Yet, while the aspiration of Zimbabwe's queens is, as Carlos Mpofu said, "to be liberated everywhere," few have the temerity, under the pressure of hatred and the threat of retaliation, to express themselves fully anywhere except behind closed doors. As one queen told our researcher about the Jacaranda Pageant, "It's so wonderful because for one day a year we can be who we really want to be."58 The rest of the time, the minutiae of personal appearance can be met with random violence.
Nhlanhla N., twenty years old in 2000 and living in Bulawayo, had not-yet-found or joined the "liberated queens." He had only recently discovered the GLOM office as a safe space and resource, and it was there that we interviewed him. Nhlanhla says, hesitantly and slowly, "The problem I have is people teasing me and wanting to beat me up because of my sexual orientation." Asked what he means by "sexual orientation," he says, "I am like a girl. I am a sissy." Although he identifies himself as "gay," the sense of not fitting into the norms of manhood is his strongest feeling of non-conformity, and viewing himself thus, rather than realizing his sexual desires, seems to have constituted his "coming out" to himself:
I'm greatly talked about in the neighborhood, and it makes me afraid. Because I am sissy I get harassed all the time. Men in my neighborhood see I am gay because of the way I walk. They make passes at me, get fresh with me, and want to sleep with me. I have been identified like this since I was fourteen, till now.
My mother knows. But people tell her bad things about me. They tell her I am soliciting, that I am a prostitute. My mother is sometimes confused, and she condemns me for doing these things. She blames me for being gay, but doesn't like to talk about it. But people go talk to her.
There is one person, my neighbor next door, who has it in for me. She always shouts at me when I pass, saying "Why don't you get married, or have a girlfriend?" I'm afraid she will set somebody on me. She threatens me; her husband is a policeman, and she says she'll tell him to arrest me. She says she will call young boys to beat me up, and "That will stop what you are doing."
That's how I feel all the time, being sworn at, threatened. I am always by myself.59
One rare person in the region who has built a life around crossing gender norms is Musonda Chitalu in Zambia. Our researcher interviewed Chitalu in July 2000. Born female in 1974, and named Janet Chitalu, Musonda has adopted a new name and now identifies as male. He now wears only men's clothes-and has become almost as notorious in Zambia as was Francis Chisambisha, the subject of newspaper articles as well as the object of harassment and discrimination. Many people in Zambia, when told that Human Rights Watch was investigating "gay issues" in the country, knew that notoriety through the press, and told us to find "Janet Chitalu."
Chitalu does not see himself as "gay" or "homosexual." He might be identified, in the United States or Europe, as a "pre-operative female-to-male transgender person." Yet the category does not quite correspond-not least because, in Chitalu's story, it was society which identified him as unnaturally masculine while he persisted in believing himself to have a female body. By his account, interpretive codes which viewers imposed on his physical appearance re-cast him as a man, though for a long time he wanted to remain a woman. There is no clear medical or social category for Chitalu in contemporary Zambia. He is uncertain of how to define himself. Although he says "I am a man," he also calls himself a "hermaphrodite" and "intersex," terms acquired from doctors who may themselves have been unsure of their meaning (see below). What is certain is that Chitalu has lived his life, despite hardships and harassment, with extraordinary individuality, self-confidence, and courage.
Musonda/Janet was born in Nchelenge in Luapula province. "I started realizing as I was growing toward thirteen that my development was different," he says. "I had no breasts, my body was so physical, I looked muscular like a boy. My brothers and sisters were mocking me all the time." Musonda-who is short-haired but could otherwise pass as a woman on the street, save for his clothes-is reluctant or unable to identify these differences more exactly. He told both our researcher and a newspaper interviewer that "I had the inner conviction that I was a female"; but Chitalu began wearing men's trousers from time to time "because they fit my body better."60
Chitalu attended Matero Girls' Secondary School, a boarding school in Lusaka, and was a prize-winning runner. However, "people started doubting my sex," he told our researcher, and dropped Chitalu from the girls' running team. After two years, a new headmaster came, and he "rejected" me, Chitalu says: "There was no proper reason, he just chased me out when I came to sit for the exams. And the next day when I came back he told me I was a freak and told me he would call the paramilitary police to chase me out."
Chitalu spent two years out of school. In 1992, at seventeen, he was readmitted to another boarding school near Nchelenge. Though still insisting he was a woman, Chitalu says, he was not believed:
The headmaster there didn't want to admit me because he wasn't sure if I was male or female. He suggested that I go to have a medical test in order to see. When I refused, he said I was "disloyal." He only admitted me when my father went there and threatened to sue. And he only let me in on condition that I wouldn't live in the school. So I had to squat in the village in a place with no electricity, so it was very hard to study. The headmaster was always finding excuses to put me on suspension, because he wanted me out of there. But I pulled through and I got my certificate.
In 1995, Chitalu moved to Lusaka. "Things were not so easy. I stayed with my sister at first and then she threw me out. There were always problems on the street and road, I always had rocks thrown at me." 61
Chitalu cannot say exactly when he decided that he was not a woman but a man. However, a traumatic event-which he described, in tears, to a reporter in 1998 as "an incident I will never forget"-may have played a part.62 Chitalu did not cry while retelling it to our researcher, but his emotion was evident. A group of kaponyas or street toughs grabbed him in a market. He was still wearing women's clothes at the time; they accused him of impersonating a woman. "They held me down and pulled down my knickers. It was awful," Chitalu told us; he told the reporter that "I'll never forget the anguish and humiliation." After that, Chitalu swore never to wear women's clothes again.63
Chitalu was noticed on the street by a reporter from the Times of Zambia, who did a story about him in 199664; after that, a women's NGO briefly gave him a job. However, for the most part "I had no money and no employment." In 1998, Chitalu legally changed his first name from Janet to "Musonda"-a name he says is used by both men and women-and, astonishingly, changed his registered sex from female to male as well (his I.D. card indeed lists "Musonda Chitalu" as male). Chitalu says, "I had to go before a court to do it by deed poll. It was difficult and they didn't want to do it at first, until I produced medical papers."65
The physician Chitalu saw before the court hearing put a name to his "condition" for the first time. The doctor used the word "hermaphrodite"; another doctor, later, referred to Chitalu as "intersexed." Intersex is a term used in many countries to refer to people who are born with anatomical or physiological characteristics which do not conform to social or cultural norms of what is male or female.66 It is unclear whether the doctor used the term in this sense or was fully informed about the meanings of "intersex[ed]."67
Chitalu's story points to the difficulty of imposing an identity derived from European or American models on individual experiences shaped by a different cultural context. Largely on his own, Chitalu has negotiated an identity for himself between a sense of difference derived from others' disdain, and a powerful inner sense of being a "normal" human being with dignity and rights. What is also certain is that this negotiated identity now revolves around Chitalu's wishing to be treated as male.
According to Chitalu, doctors recommended a "sex-change operation," or sex reassignment surgery (SRS). Chitalu went to the University Teaching Hospital of Zambia, and was told that "the medical help I need" could only be found in the U.S. or South Africa. Chitalu hopes to save enough money to travel to South Africa for such an operation. He hopes afterward to be able to marry a woman. And he hopes to work in, or found, an NGO supporting youth. His church, the Northmead Assembly of God, has been extremely supportive, even writing a letter to the Ministry of Health asking for SRS for Chitalu. "Without them and my Christian faith," Chitalu says, "I couldn't survive"; and Christianity indeed seems to have provided him, from his early years, a definition of human dignity which could transcend gender, and which would survive no matter whether he was seen or named as female or as male.
Yet the harassment continues. Chitalu's secondary school certificate still shows him as Janet; the National Examinations Council in the Ministry of Education refused to change the name, making his degree useless, and "it may take a lot of bribes" to get it done, Chitalu says. "Boys still throw rocks at me when I go down the street, all the time, everywhere." During the 1998 controversies over homosexuality in Zambia, he was identified as "gay," and "that worried me," he said: "What would people do?"68 And Zimbabwean border police detained and stripped him at the Chirundu border post when he tried to visit Harare-this time, because they did not believe that he was, as his identity papers said, male.
Musonda Chitalu resisted gender norms in a comprehensive way. Others in the region find that small deviations can still elicit violence. Peter Joaneti, a GALZ staffer, recalls that in Harare,
One night early in this year  I was in a minitaxi going home. And the conductor asked me, "Why are you wearing two earrings? Are you ngochani?" So I told him, "Yes. Are you hetero?"
And he started beating me over the head, right there in the taxi. I was afraid the other passengers would start joining in. I managed to call on my cellphone to my younger brother, who came and met the taxi and got me off.69
Tina Machida told us in August 2000 that "Just last week in front of a shop in Queensdale [a Harare suburb] Fatima and I were attacked. Four guys came up to us and called Fatima ngochani. I came to his defence and they shouted that at me too. They started to hit us. We fought back, and they ran away. But they know that if we go to the police, nothing will happen."70
And "Teresa," in Bulawayo, told us,
In the afternoon these guys will just shout at us, but after hours they want to beat us till we die. I have a small scar under my eye: that was from the time in Bellevue East, when the mob chased Carlos and Dominic [and] myself. I had a red eye for weeks after that, where they hit me. They roam at night, with sticks and clubs and rocks. They are not necessarily looking for homosexuals, but they are looking for trouble, and a man with a swing in his hips means trouble.
It only takes one person to start a mob. One of them sees you and starts shouting, "homo, gay, Banana [a reference to the former Zimbabwean president conviced of sodomy]"-the repertory.
Normally we don't go to the shops if there is a case in the papers of "sodomy": we don't go around for a few days after. If they see a screaming queen or someone who they think is a homosexual, they will say, "You rape children." They think every gay man is a pedophile-I mean, the people in high-density areas.
In low-density areas they are a little more educated. They're more likely to leave you alone. There is also an attitude in the low-density areas of respect for privacy: since you have a little yourself, you respect it in others. It's a feeling of "It's not my business": you shut the gate, you don't gossip with the neighbors. In the high-density areas there is no privacy, so you cannot be let alone. "It's not my business" means nothing. People gossip, and news and words spread.71
A researcher for Human Rights Watch and IGLHRC experienced the harassment and danger personally in August 2000. While he and three GLOM members, including "Teresa," walked in broad daylight down a road to the GLOM Center, a small rented house on the edge of the Nketa high-density area of Bulawayo, a group of about seven young men began shouting insults and pelting them with stones.
Behind the eruptions of violence and the displays of discrimination lies a constant pattern of prejudice manifested through name-calling and rumor. Andrew K. says that in his small Zimbabwean town, Mutoroshanga, people "talk about me and gossip about me. Sometimes they call me queer and shout at me on the streets, calling me dog, ngochani, all those things." He has only discussed his sexuality, gingerly, with his immediate family, but believes "the word has gotten out." He says, "It is OK in Zimbabwe if you keep it private. It is not OK if it becomes public. But it is very hard to keep it private. And then it is very lonely. I am intensely lonely in the town."72
Justin, a student at a teacher's college in Mutare, told our researcher that "Although Mutare is a small community, the discrimination we face everywhere is also there."
It is in the streets, in the college. Even though you try to hide, a few now know that is what I am. They know it through the people I hang around with....
When people see someone with an earring, or who uses makeup, or who has a strange hairstyle, they shout "Homo." In certain incidents they shout at you across the street. They talk all the time about homosexuality, in terms of "Are you a woman or a man?" People at our college start shouting when papers carry articles about homosexuality. They call out, "It's un-African, a white-dominated thing, these people are possessed."
They believe that because homosexuality is not talked about in African culture. They associate it with people possessed by bad spirits. They think you should go to traditional healers. Sometimes the healers will say, you should sleep with a young child for good luck.
My friend is very feminine. He prances like the chengetanai. He trimmed his eyebrows, curled his hair, wore earrings. People call him sisi-in Shona, from the English. People don't want to associate with a person who acts in that sort of way.
It happened to me. My friend, the one who is too much feminine: people will shout at him [in] the street. Last year, a group of schoolkids in the bus from a boys' high school saw the two of us in the street while the bus was stopped at a robot [traffic light]. They were all shouting "ngochani" at us from the bus; people in the street were trying to see who was being called that.
My friend is beaten up a lot. In secondary school no one wanted to be seen with him; teachers didn't want him to come to their offices, tried to brush him off. I was a prefect. People would say to me, "Why do you, a respectable person, hang around with him?" It was very difficult for him. 73
Justin worries about the effect of rumor and stereotype on his career:
If I become a teacher, I will spend most of my time with kids. I am worried about the future. I will try my best not to raise suspicions. But it also means trying to keep the kids from coming physically close to me, or getting friendly. I will have to watch everything I do, because someone could become suspicious. It means I will have to behave differently from the other teachers: I can't have normal friendly relations with students, because in my case those could be suspect.74
Tina Machida said the pressure ruins relationships and families as well as individual lives.
You feel alone. It is not so easy for lesbian couples to stay together, or gay couples, for that matter. To stay under the same roof-people will suspect. Neighbors will want to know if you are related. If the surnames are different, they will be curious.
In my house, we avoid the neighbors, try to avoid them knowing more about us. But even if you don't have a partner under the same roof, if you are seeing each other every day while living separately, people will start knowing.75
The state provides little protection. Many victims are afraid to approach the police. Chauta N., who cross-dresses in Lusaka, Zambia, says,
In my neighborhood they are used to me now. But elsewhere-Kamwala, Kabwata-they call me names, laugh at me. Sometimes I'm beaten up. Those who are drunk, if you pass bars by the shops, they'll stop you and beat you. I don't report it to the police, because the guys make threats-they turn round before they leave you there on the ground and say, we'll report you to the police.76
In Namibia, Ian Swartz says that the police often refuse to respond when they see lesbians, gay men, or transgender people attacked. Swartz himself witnessed a gang attack as he was driving through Windhoek late one evening.
I saw a transvestite-she was young and probably working the streets. I saw five young men jump her and beat her to the ground. A police van drove right past it-they could not have avoided seeing what was happening but they did not stop. I got the registration number of the van. But when I followed up I could not find anything-the hospital said no one was brought in, the police said there was no report and even said that there was no van with that registration number.77
In Zimbabwe, a Herald headline, "Angry mob beats suspected lesbians," reported a violent incident:
Two suspected lesbians who were allegedly caught in an indecent position in Harare's Highfield suburb were lucky to escape with their lives after an angry mob beat them up on Wednesday afternoon.
The "lovebirds" were allegedly parked at an open space on the suburb's fringes when small boys passing by spotted them.
Amused by what they had seen, the boys ran to nearby houses and called some friends to witness what was going on.
This allegedly aroused the suspicion of a few women who followed the boys and spotted the pair in action.
The pair was saved by a policeman who shepherded them into a passing car, which disappeared from the scene with the crowd in hot pursuit.
Several people who called The Herald described the women's actions as inhuman. 78
Although the police apparently acted appropriately in defense of the pair, police spokesman Superintendent Wayne Bvudzijena reportedly apologized for their failure to punish the couple-saying that "although what the pair is alleged to have done was improper, the force's hands were tied as there was no law against lesbianism." 79
In a brief interview almost a year after the alleged incident, Superintendent Bvudzijena was unable to give Human Rights Watch and IGLHRC further details about the story. He said, though, that the mob's reaction, "if true, would be a natural one." His comments both then and earlier suggest a police force at least as concerned to eliminate "improper" behavior from public space as to discourage "mob violence."80
Nor are the courts more sympathetic. In 1999, a Harare judge passed sentence on a man convicted of stealing computer equipment from the GALZ Center. The magistrate, Edson Musabanya, went out of his way to note that the accused "had not done himself or his mother any good in associating with members of GALZ." He added that the accused "knew full well what he was doing when he went merry making with the gays and lesbians"; and that "Even if you say you had gone to the party to drink beer only, you rushed in where angels fear to tread and for that you are a fool." 81 The comments were reported on the front page of the Herald.
In such an environment, difference is under sustained threat, with little prospect of protection. Tina Machida says,
If I stay in the closet, then I'm safe. But it's a false safety-one person will suspect and tell another person. So you think, why not fight for my rights! But if you do that, the problems only multiply....
Nowhere is really safe. What can you do to protect yourself? All I can say is, we try wherever possible to move in groups.82
Derrick, a young activist in Namibia, tells how, again and again,
Me and my friends went out to the club and dressed really nice. And at the end of the day, we would be there, beaten up. Because they would call us queers and blah, blah, blah.... Some clubs are really difficult. It's dangerous really-it can cost your life, it can really cost your life. But at some there are really nice, gay-friendly clubs.... But I think if you are a gay person and going to a club, maybe it's best if you went with a car and if you leave early. It's safe it you leave the club earlier. But if you are by foot or you mean to take a cab, it will be very dangerous.83
Gay-identified men and some lesbians throughout southern Africa recount stories of repeated attacks or harassment at or around bars, pubs, and clubs. Incursions of sexual or gender non-conformity into insular, male-dominated spaces are met by brutal retaliation. One gay man confirms,
Pubs are a constant problem. They do not want to share the space with gay people. Someone enters in a pub, and if he sees there are gay people, he goes out. And sometimes he will wait outside for you, to beat you when you leave.84
A preponderance of these stories come from Zimbabwe. They seem also to reveal anxieties surrounding race and class that are deeply rooted in Zimbawe's still profoundly stratified society.
"Wellington Ncube" says,
One of the worst problems people face is going to clubs. They get attacked in clubs for being gay. But clubs, the few of them that are friendly, are the only places you can go to have a good time. And maybe meet another person who might be gay.
They are all straight clubs. You cannot have a gay bar in Zimbabwe at this point. The majority of the population is still too homophobic. We don't want to suggest that most of our help comes from outside the community. If people see a gay bar, they will say, it will influence people to be gay. And they would wonder where the money comes from. The war veterans85 would attack: after all, they don't accept help from outside the country. There is this obsession with influence, with anything that encourages what they call the Western influence in our country.86
The fears center not just around "Western" influence-but on the invidious impact, and scarcity, of money. The division between gays and straights in Zimbabwe is often entangled, among blacks, with another division between what are known as "clear beer" and "dark beer" people-between men who buy bottled lager, and those who can only afford cartons of cheap chibuku, unpasteurized dark beer. The brands are signs of relative class and status, and increasingly are markers for masculinity. One gay man says, "They call gays `clear-drinkers,' because they think we get money from white people to afford it." In mid-1999, he remembers,
In Mutare, I went into this pub with my friend, who is also a regular patron. Two guys came up and said, "Can you buy us some dark beer?" We refused, told them we didn't have money. It was an excuse. I said to my friend, "We have to be careful, they might say you are trying to seduce them."
But the guys saw that we were drinking clear beer already. They said, "Are two moffies drinking beer here? How do they dare?" They told some other guys outside. And then suddenly four or five of these guys come in and gather around us and start harassing us. "What are you doing here? Why do you drink beer like women do? You are degrading our culture. You must get out." We didn't go back there for three or four months.
One time the same friend, who is very feminine, was beaten up in a beer hall. Guys are always coming up to ask us for money. Because I have a job and I dress well, they say, "You must get this money from sleeping with white people." From there, they start shouting. And the trouble begins. 87
"They think gay men have more money," another man says.88 Gays are seen as "working class"-which in Zimbabwean parlance, amid massive unemployment, means upper class, or comparatively wealthy because employed.
That identification is also inextricable from the identification of homosexuality with whiteness. Wealthy means white, in a country scarred not only by the recent memory of racist rule but the continuing reality of inequality. As revealed in the testimonies recounted in Chapter III, black gays in Zimbabwe are believed to have white money in their pockets. "Teresa" says:
Some say, black men only sleep with white men to sell sex. White people in this country, in the whole of Africa, have done one really horrible thing, to convince people that being gay means money.89
And another gay man says, "Everyone has this misconception, that black gay men are just men who do it with whites for money."90
Simbarashe ("Simba") Zwangobani, twenty years old when we spoke to him in 2000, says, "Nothing is harder than to be gay and friends with a white man. Usually everyone thinks `gay' as soon as they see you together. It's gotten that way: a white man and a black man together are automatically assumed to be gay."91
Yet the presence of white men is not necessary to incite harassment. Peter Joaneti says that, in 1999, at Time and Place, a bar which had a reputation as "gay-friendly" at the time,
I was standing with a friend. A certain guy came and introduced himself to me, and asked me to buy him a drink. I refused. So he went over and told a friend of his that we were homosexuals and he would drive us out of the club. There was a bartender who was very homophobic, and he connived with them: I think he was tired of having us there. So they got about fifteen of the customers together to attack us.
Inside the club they started beating us. And they took us out on the street and called some street kids over to come and help beat us. We got a taxi to take us to the police. We had bruises all over our faces, our noses were bleeding.
At Harare Central, the sergeant started off helpful. He told us if we saw some of these guys on the street we should stop a policeman and ask him for help. Then I told him I was gay. And one cop said, "You proposed sex to them, right? That was why they beat you up." Other cops asked, "How could someone beat you up just because you wouldn't buy them a drink?"92
Simba Zwangobani also remembers,
In May 1999 I went with seven other gays to a club called the Rose and Crown. We were standing together and a man started applauding and making fun of us, saying "You moffies!" And then suddenly the whole club descended on us. We were beaten and thrown out of there. It wouldn't help in any of these cases to go to the police. When you've already been beaten up, you don't want to get laughed at on top of it.93
"Wellington Ncube" confirms,
We used to go to Time and Place after GALZ meetings; it was very friendly at times. But this always changes. Now it is unsafe. If we go there even in a big group, big numbers of straight people will walk out. It's safe when they're gone, but sometimes they wait for you outside. So you can't leave alone, you all have to leave together. But if you go there in small groups, it is not safe.94
Romeo Tshuma, a longtime activist and employee of GALZ, was beaten severely by staff of a supposedly friendly club with which the organization had a contract. On March 27, 1998, GALZ was scheduled to hold a private fundraising party called the "Queen of Clubs" at Sandro's Nightclub in central Harare. The club's manager had approved and signed a contract. Tshuma and Juan May Lopes-Pinto, then GALZ's operations manager, were to come to the club at 6:00 p.m. to begin setting up the venue.
According to GALZ, when Tshuma arrived at 6:30 to put up temporary decorations for the event, the club's bouncer, "known as Shumba," began harassing him verbally and tearing the decorations down. Together with other employees, he "announced that due [to] the nature of the function, they were not going to allow it to take place and further continued to make homophobic and offensive remarks. When Mr. Tshuma disputed such remarks the bouncer at the door without warning began to strike him continuously."95 Tshuma told our researcher,
This big guy, the bouncer, said, "You gays want to take over this nightclub. I will punish you before the rest arrive." He beat me and then he pushed me into the street. He shouted, "This homosexual is going to take over this nightclub and I will not allow it. I will beat him so he'll tell his friends not to come." Some of the passersby came over, and when they figured out what was going on, they started backing him and beating on me too.
Juan came, in his car. He saw what was happening and so he drove off to find a policeman. The policeman said he would come but he never did.
Juan came back and got me in the car. I had been beaten very seriously. We went to Harare Central Police Station to report it. The sergeant at the enquiries desk took a statement. And then he said, "What were you doing there?" I told him it was a gay event.
He said, "What did you expect? If you have a gay event in this city, people will beat you up."
Some of us are well known, and if we report even something that doesn't have to do with a gay issue, they will say, "You are gay, this is what happens to you."96
Tina Machida tells another story. "A month ago," she says, "Kelvin, Robert, Fatima, me, and another friend were all at the Florida nightclub here in Queenside":
A bunch of guys in the corner, customers, were talking about us. One of them, a guy, came over and said, "You gays, you all get out of here."
Well, I knew three of those guys. They had been in my house, at a party I had on the first of July. They had gatecrashed, they were not invited. They said they came "out of curiosity." They were asked to leave. But then they waited by the gate for people to leave, and they beat them up. Two women were beaten pretty badly. The guys told them, "This gate is the end of the road for you homosexuals. No one is getting out." One of the women came back in and told us, and one of the men at the party took everyone home by car.
And at [the] bar, those three guys were among that group. And they were telling us, "homosexuals out of the bar." I told Robert and Kelvin and the rest to leave. But I stayed behind. I refused to leave. I was so angry. They picked up a chair and wanted to beat me up. The owner sent over his bouncer to tell me to get out. I said, "Come tell me yourself. Don't send your bouncer with the message."
I took a taxi home-I spent money, because I knew they would follow me. But next day, one of the hooligans came over to my house. He said he was sorry. The guys at the bar had asked him to come over and start a fight. They offered him beers for it. They were hoping I would hit him, so the fight could begin.97
Kelvin adds, "That happens in clubs all the time, if you visit almost any club-a club that is not gay-friendly. But you never know whether a club will be gay-friendly. A club that is one night will not be the next night, because the police or some hooligans have visited it."98
"Wellington Ncube" says, "The only way to respond to bar attacks is to say `We are here, stop the violence.' But for this we need unity among gay people, and this has failed to happen." Tina Machida points to the way race and xenophobia are deployed to impede gays and lesbians from standing up:
The trouble is so great. And they have their image of what you are all set in stone. Once they have you, they identify you as "Keith's friend"-not gay or lesbian, but "Keith's friend." And it is all because of that stupid story with the blackmail. They defamed all of us that way-they think Keith Goddard is the one who teaches everyone to be gay. And he is now the only white man who comes to the [GALZ] center.99
That gays are imagined to have access to "white" money is a cruel irony. Mass unemployment prevails in the region; we spoke to many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people who had never had salaried jobs. They were supported by their families, or lived by casual labor or in a barter economy.
While particular inequalities are difficult to disentangle amid the general fact of poverty, discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity appears to be widespread. Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people we spoke to who had been employed had been harassed or fired. Effective protection is absent in most countries; indeed, the climate of homophobia actively encourages dismissals. In Zambia, Chauta N., who wears clothing identified as feminine, reports,
I've been fired at least three times. The first was at the Supreme Furniture Shop. Even at the interview they said, you are too girlish. I was wearing men's clothes then, but I tried dressing more comfortably after I was hired. They fired me right away.
The second was at the Interconti [the Intercontinental Hotel]. I was a bellboy and given a week or two to work, then I was fired.
At another place, when they were interviewing me, they said, no, you are too womanlike. And then they threw me out.
I can't keep a job and be me. But I don't want to keep their money and be someone else. It wouldn't be my money, would it? It wouldn't be me they were paying.100
"Princess Diana," a gay Zambian man, told us: "At work, people will be talking things about you, it doesn't mean that you can't do the work, maybe you are the best person to do the work, but just because they have discovered that you are a gay or a lesbian, and then they'll say all those things. And in Zambia, the government is not protecting you." "Princess Diana" has left the country for South Africa.101
Paradoxically, Namibia-one of the countries whose leaders is most vocally homophobic-is the only African country outside South Africa to offer workplace protections against sexual orientation-based discrimination. The Labour Act-passed in 1992, early in Namibia's independent history, and long before the SWAPO government discovered the political uses of homophobia-includes sexual orientation in a list of barred grounds for discriminatory labor practices, and allows victims to seek remedy before a Labour Court. Only one sexual orientation -elated case under the act is known: this certainly reflects lack of knowledge about its protections, and fear of employing them, rather than the frequency of discrimination. Elizabeth Khaxas of Sister Namibia, who worked in a school before becoming a full-time feminist activist, has written about the difficulty of turning a little-known legal remedy into effective action in a deeply hostile society. Her words are relevant to the similar struggle to implement state promises in South Africa:
How many of us know that [the law] explicitly protects us from harassment at the work place? And how many of us are willing to expose ourselves to possible harassment and the ensuing legal battles over our right to live our lives and loves openly at work? What if the parents of the school where I am a principal decide tomorrow they don't want a lesbian on the staff or the school management? Will ... I have to take the parents and the ministry to court to assert my rights under the Labour Act? Being subjected to this kind of constant fear at the workplace is a form of discrimination. It prevents me from sharing the most important aspect of my life with my colleagues at work, consciously hiding issues that heterosexual people openly assume as part of their lives. 102
Sarah, a thirty-two-year-old lesbian, has experienced how remote reality is from the promises of the act. She worked until 2001 for a NGO that provided services in areas of northern Namibia.
After the president gave his speech [in March 2001] calling for us to be arrested and deported, my supervisor called me and two other women into her office. She asked if we were lesbians, if we participated in lesbian activities. We lied and said no. She said, "Lesbians are not allowed to be in Namibia-it's unnatural."
Then I was transferred from a job at the headquarters in Windhoek to work in the north. When I got there the staff all knew that I was a lesbian. They would ask me why I dressed the way I did, why I wouldn't change my lifestyle, and they would tell me that I have to get married and have children. The staff all lived in the same hostel. There was a young man on staff who was very rough with his words. He would threaten to beat me or rape me and he would kick my chair when he walked past where I was sitting.103
But the worst part for Sarah was not the verbal harassment, the threats of physical violence, or even the isolation: it was the refusal of her co-workers to ensure her safety.
Everyone knows the [area was] unsafe. I felt very unsafe. . . . The [people we served] were very homophobic and the staff had told them about me. Also there were lots of rapes . . . and the women who worked there were not to go out alone. But I was always sent out alone. I was very scared. I asked for a transfer and was refused. I asked for support in my work and was told there was nothing anyone would do and that I had to take it or leave it. I wrote to the Labour Committee but they never responded. I quit. It was too unsafe.104
In August 2002, flaunting his disregard for the paper protections of the Labour Act, President Sam Nujoma told a trade union congress: "I warn you as workers not to allow homosexuality. Africa will be destroyed."105
5. Discrimination and harassment at the hands of the church
"I always want to tell people, don't expect sympathy from the church if you are gay," said Carlos Mpofu-who was dismissed as a Sunday school teacher and expelled from his congregation in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, when his sexuality was suspected.106
We heard some dissenting voices in the region. Musonda Chitalu, in Zambia, found the greatest single source of support for her gender non-conformity-once it was understood as a "medical condition"-to be her local Assembly of God church. In Botswana, Anglican Archbishop Walter Makhulu has supported not only human rights in general but the rights of marginalized minorities in particular.
Some churches have tried to differentiate between the respective scopes of moral strictures and rights protections. In April 2001, amid a wave of President Nujoma's homophobic statements, the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) issued a protest conceding that individual churches condemned homosexuality and that it remained a "complex issue," but strongly affirming that the Council "rejected any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation."107 Evangelical Lutheran Church leaders in Namibia met later that year with gay and lesbian activists, in a series of inconclusive discussions. Some ministers stressed the church's commitment to understanding, others "pushed the agenda of homosexuality as a sin," according to Elizabeth Khaxas.108 Khaxas believes that, while some of Namibia's churches may not support the state, most will not help or minister to gays and lesbians unless they repent, and thus they give their tacit support to homophobia.109
Many Christian denominations in Africa have gone out of their way to attack gay and lesbian people in the last seven years. Chapter II, above, includes examples. The leaders of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches leapt to support President Mugabe's homophobic harangues-and closed ranks to shut GALZ out of the World Council of Churches' international gathering in Harare. Most Christian denominations in Zambia fulminated vociferously against homosexuality during the 1998 burst of hysteria after Francis Chisambisha's revelation. And the Anglican bishop of Uganda wasted no time in congratulating President Yoweri Museveni when he ordered police to "lock up" lesbians and gays.
The role, and rhetoric, of churches is particularly important because of their central place in many African societies. They are not only nodes of solidarity and linchpins of community. In many areas, they furnish essential services, such as education and health care, which the state has either abandoned or never made a pretense of providing. Francis Chisambisha, at the time he came out publicly, was studying in a college run by the United Church of Zambia. He was forbidden to take his exams, and forced out.110
Many individual congregations hound and vilify lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members. In Botswana, Patrick Modisaemang told our researcher that "they will expel you from most churches if they find you are homosexual. They will think that you are possessed by demons."111 In Namibia, Sarah described her fear of the church.
My parents were very poor. I grew up with several brothers and played soccer. I was a goalie. I was even selected to play on the school team. I started dating girls when I was thirteen. My brothers would say to me, "you are our brother." My father died and then my mother became very ill. After that the teachers started messing with me. I failed twelfth grade. There was no one to take care of us. I began working to support my younger brothers and sisters.
I couldn't go to the church for support. I can't ever go back to the church. Once you are in the church they start on you-they humiliate you and exclude you and finally you are driven out of the church. They tell me that being homosexual is un-African. If it is not African, where did this thing come from? I am a black African and I will stay African. Nothing will change that. And besides, where in the Bible is it written to rape and beat and kill women?112
Isaiah, in Namibia, explained that the church has a significant role because it is in churches that people are taught that homosexuality is a sin. "However, the same ministers who focus on homosexuality never talk about how adultery is a sin or how rape is a sin," explained Isaiah. "I went to church for love and support. The pastor arranged a prayer evening and told everyone that I had a demon. They beat me, and threw me down and totally controlled my body. I never returned."113
Many feel churches encourage families to reject lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender children. "My mother threw me out of our house and said it was because she was a Christian," Buumba S. in Zambia says. "What kind of Christianity is that?"114 And, in Namibia, Isabel found that the church as a conformist community helped inculcate prejudices in her family and insecurities in her own self.
My mother was a Christian so she brought us up to be very involved in the church. When I was about twelve I realized that I like girls. The feeling just got stronger and stronger. People would say to me, "How come you are alone, you must bring a boyfriend." I wanted to run away-just to be alone. I had my first experience with a teacher. It was not a deep thing, but then I got an invitation to her wedding. I thought, "I am totally on the wrong track." At church they would ask, "When will you marry?" I realized I had to do the right thing. But I did not want to go out [from the church].
I finally got married when I was twenty-one. I have a son and a daughter. But my husband realized I was not "right." He called me a tomboy. After seven years I got divorced. That's when my life began. But it was very difficult. My mother and children were upset. It took a long time to feel at peace. People can look at me and judge me but I must live the way I am. 115
"It is dangerous to generalize about `the church' in Africa," one cleric rightly reminded us.116 In particular, no attempt to account for the conduct of Christian churches can fail to note the divide between older, established denominations, whose presence in Africa dates from the colonial era-the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and the Dutch Reformed Church among them-and the welter of small evangelical denominations which mushroom across the continent. The divisions are not mapped on strictly class or racial lines; many poorer blacks continue to attend Roman Catholic services in Zimbabwe, or Lutheran services in Namibia. However, the appeal of evangelical churches is clearly strongest in places where poverty and misery are most severe. And a wave of evangelical enthusiasm seems to be sweeping across southern Africa.
Since the first incursions of colonialism, Africa has been an assimilative and explosive ground in the history of world religions. Charismatic religious outbursts have synthesized indigenous and Christian beliefs, with many becoming or laying the ground for liberation movements. The evangelical wave now mounting, however, is promoted by a renewed burst of North American missionary activity. That activity is concentrated among fundamentalist churches and faith-based NGOs.117 Many such groups import a homophobic agenda intact. For instance, Exodus International-a U.S. NGO which promotes pseudo-medical methods of "treating" and "curing" homosexuality, all accompanied by Christian conversion-announced as early as 1996 that its "ministry opportunities" in South Africa had "sky-rocketed." One of their ministers told an audience of 700 in a Cape Town auditorium how homosexuality could be "overcome." 118 By 1999, Exodus reported that it had three offices in South Africa, "with eleven different support groups," and had undertaken missions to Kenya and Zimbabwe.119 In 1998, at least one newspaper article in Zambia recycled Exodus materials in promoting a "Christian response" to homosexuality.120
Zambia is in fact a center of Christian evangelical activity, supported by the ruling MMD party and by the constitution's definition of Zambia as a "Christian nation." Visiting Zambia in 2000, Human Rights Watch and IGLHRC found that one channel of state television broadcasting had been turned over to evangelical programming, nearly all of it from the U.S. and Canada. One clergyman in Namibia told us in 1998, "Zambia, and also Nigeria, now send out waves of their own evangelical missionaries to countries all over Africa."121
The same cleric stated,
These evangelical movements tend to be attractive. Let me put it this way: the mainline European churches, if I can call them that, tend to be staid and fixed and quiet. These fundamentalist churches are not. They speak a language which sounds very much like the language of African traditionalism, and that contributes to some degree of popularity. And you could say that they have put other churches somewhat on the defensive.122
Some older denominations have spoken out in defense of equal treatment for gays and lesbians. However, when the Council of Churches in Namibia criticized the president's homophobic rhetoric, Nujoma responded:
The church as far as I am concerned, is foreign philosophers ... the first missionaries in Namibia spied for the colonisers who followed them. Our constitution recognises freedom of worship but I don't care about it because it's artificial, it's foreign philosophers.123
Inadvertently Nujoma stressed one advantage the evangelical churches enjoy: often backed by foreign, fundamentalist missionary work, which can sometimes rival the resources of the established churches, the newer sects are nonetheless not burdened by mainstream denominations' historical association with colonialism.
There are signs that established denominations may have hardened their positions on homosexuality in response to the evangelical upsurge. An Anglican clergyman in Botswana-working for, and wholeheartedly supporting the views of, his liberal archbishop-told us that, nonetheless, "There is some feeling in the church that we should be doing more to represent Biblical positions as fully congruent with African understandings in this debate."124
The 1998 meeting of Anglican primates worldwide, the Lambeth Conference, held in Canterbury, United Kingdom, was a key moment in this hardening. African bishops spearheaded a conservative campaign to reverse liberal trends in the Anglican Church internationally. In particular, they pushed a resolution condemning homosexual practice as "incompatible with scripture." A proposed passage in the resolution which would have condemned homophobia as well was altered to read "irrational fear of homosexuals," which might be taken to mean that the church comprehended some aversions as reasonable.
The resolution put the church on record as opposed both to recognizing same-sex unions, and to ordaining those involved in such unions.125 The resolution, along with the role of African prelates in propelling it forward, was widely publicized in southern Africa. And one Anglican leader told IGLHRC it was a "setback" for the "atmosphere among churches in general": a blow to the ability of any church in the region to speak out against officials who invoked moral judgments to justify restricting rights.126
Justin, from Mutare, Zimbabwe, says that if his family discovered his homosexuality,
My mother would be greatly offended. In African culture, your mother expects you to get married, expects you to have a daughter-in-law at home. It would be worse for my mother to know I will not get married than that I am gay. That is what they expect, what they have seen from their childhood; it is an unheard-of thing not to marry, and they will worry what the community will think of it. It is a disgrace to the family.
I could get married, but I would have problems sexually with women, my wife would suspect and then could find out about my private life. And why should I lie to someone?127
His fears are echoed by many gays and lesbians. Some people, indeed, isolate themselves from their own families, out of shame or fear. "Teresa," in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, says, "I didn't stay with my mother when she was dying. I didn't want the neighbors to gossip to her."128
Prejudice in the family is not merely an issue of emotional estrangment. It can lead to brutal violence. When, in her early twenties, Tina Machida's parents learned she was a lesbian,
They tried to force me to find a boyfriend but I could not fit in with what they wanted. I was afraid that I was going to end up in trouble because of my attitude so I used to bring a gay boy home and tell my parents we were lovers and that we were saving so we could get married. They believed me and he came to dinner once a week. When they found out that we were lying, our weekly dinners were banned and he was not allowed to come back to our house.
My parents decided to look for a husband on my behalf so they brought several boys home to meet me but I was not interested so in the end they forced an old man on me. They locked me in a room and brought him everyday to rape me so I would fall pregnant and be forced to marry him. They did this to me until I was pregnant after which they told me I was free to do whatever I wanted but that I must go and stay with this man or they would throw me out of the house. They did throw me out eventually thinking that, as I was not employed, I would end up going to this man's house. Instead, I went to stay with my friends.
I went for an abortion and I was in the hospital for a month. After that I used to hide whenever I saw my relatives. I did not contact them for six months. The police were looking for me so I used to move during the night only. In the end, the police found me and took me home where I was locked up and beaten until I could not even lift my arms or get up.
I stayed in that room for months pretending I was sick so they would not bring the horrible man again but they did and I fell pregnant again. I ran away and went to stay with my girlfriend. I did not go for an abortion this time because I was scared it would kill me. The first time had been really painful. I kept the pregnancy [this time] until I had a miscarriage at seven months and the baby died.129
Parents who detect their children's difference may force them to undergo traditional "treatments" to "cure" their behaviors. Buumba S., a lesbian in Zambia, believes that to be a common practice. "If you are gay, if you don't interact sexually in a normal way, your parents will think you are interacting with spirits," she told our researcher.130 Peter Joaneti, whose parents moved to Zimbabwe from Zambia when he was ten, tells one such story.
I never knew much about gayness when I was a child. In grade six, I picked up that I was completely different from other guys. In grade seven, I was called a "poofter": and when I asked, I found out that meant a man who got fucked by another man. The homosexual issue hadn't become so big in Zimbabwe; later on, words like that began to be heard more. I began coming to terms with the fact that I was homosexual at around fifteen.
So then I told my family. I was fifteen. I said, "I love other men, I think I'm homosexual." I didn't know it would provoke them. When I was born my mother was expecting a girl, all her preparations were for a girl, and I was treated like a girl as a baby. So I didn't think it would be provoking. But my brother said, "You cannot say that in front of people. I will kill you if you keep on telling people that is what you are." And my mother said, "You must keep it to yourself."
I was taken to a healer, a sangoma, in Harare, with my father and his aunties. They told me, "In our culture it is not acceptable." They thought I was possessed by a demon.
I was seventeen by then. The healer gave me some muti, a tree herb mixed with water. I was supposed to bathe in it and drink some every morning. And there were rituals I was supposed to do with my family. I stopped acting gay for a while, stopped seeing other men. But it didn't last a year.
My family wanted to drive me out of the home. But I was already the breadwinner, I was bringing in too much money. Five years later, they actually drove me away for a week. But the bringer of money had to come back. They chased me because I was bringing my boyfriend home and they feared I would provoke my younger brothers to be gay. Finally, I moved out voluntarily. I feel free.131
Many parents "chase their children out," as Tina Machida says-drive them from their lives altogether. For children under 18 (as in the case of "Fatima," described earlier), this can be devastating. In Namibia, The Rainbow Project often tries to help young people who have been rejected by their families. Says Ian Swartz, "What is hard are the really young ones who simply can't hide who they are. We had a fourteen-year-old, Marshall, come to us for help. He's so gay he simply can't hide it."132
Yet for older youths, the loss of family ties can also expose them to hardship and danger. It can result in the loss of housing or education: Swartz says, "The safest thing to do is stay in the closet-even after you've left home and are at university. Just last week I had two young men seeking help. Two brothers were rejected by their families. They were students at Polytechnic-but since their families found out they were gay they were refusing to pay their school fees."
Buumba S. relates that when her mother accused her of being a lesbian-during the controversy over LEGATRA in Zambia in 1998-and she answered that she was, "My mother thought it was outright disobedience, a sin. She said she had standing in the Christian community and she couldn't endure this. She said, you have to leave home. She is very much the matriarch of our extended clan, and no one else in the family would or could take me in or help me." Buumba found work with a Christian charity supporting street children; by the end of 1998 she ran, and lived in, a children's shelter built from discarded steel drums in a field on the edge of Lusaka. "It's a kind of self-imposed exile out there, with the kids," she said, "just to get out of the whole situation. But I have to be careful. I'm afraid the shelter would get closed if the government found out a gay person was working there."133
Dominic S., twenty years old when we interviewed him, was from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and living periodically on the street. His adolescent coming-out led to family violence and the loss of his legal identity:
My life has changed enormously in the last five years. Here it is a taboo to be seen as a gay man. Parents will be expecting a man-child to keep a family, get married, have children. Whether you are gay or not, at least you should have a family. And if you are a feminine man, they think even that is beyond you. I knew I was gay at a tender age-I thought I knew what it was about! But I didn't know what to do about my homosexuality.
I was always very different. But I really discovered it when I was fifteen. I went to a boys' school then, and I saw other boys making love. I didn't talk about it. I had a close friend, Sylvester, who said, "I've discovered something about you. You are gay, like me." He was the first person I was open to about my homosexuality.
My family was Catholic and I went to a very strict Catholic school. I didn't know anything about sex. I had a very violent father. I was the only child. My mother is now divorced. For the first few years after the divorce, I stayed with my father and stepmother.
Back at school, I wasn't allowed to be homosexual, of course. My schoolmates knew about gay people from the press and the president. They knew about me, they recognized me, and they would harass me. When I was doing my fifth form I was senior prefect-a sports person, you know. But suddenly all these merits were taken from me. I was demoted. The school authorities found out when my schoolmates said, "Dominic has been seeing Sylvester, he is gay, he is a sissy."
Since it was illegal in Zimbabwe, school authorities called my mother. I was lucky they called her and not my father. She denied it to them; and she kept it a secret, she didn't tell my dad. The school authorities told her I needed psychiatric treatment to change me. My mother just grew distant. She didn't want to talk with me about it.
She was close to my father's sister-cousins and they began to sense it. But then my stepmother was suspicious also, because my schoolmates told their families, and their families talked. And so my stepmother began opening my mail. She opened one of my letters from Sylvester, and discovered I was gay.
My stepmother told my father. He disowned me, and threw me out of the house. It was 1998, I was eighteen; I knew I didn't have a dad anymore and it was very painful for me. I tried to talk to him. He said, "I am not going to have a child who is going to be a sodomist." My stepmother encouraged him. She used to give me a very hard time. She had two big boys of her own, and she thought I was going to sodomize them.
My mother was married to another man. I couldn't stay with my father any longer; but my mother's new husband had figured out I was gay, and he couldn't stand me either. ...
I was still in Catholic school in Bulawayo. My progress was affected-I failed my A-level exams. My father was paying my school fees. But then he stopped. And he also took all my papers-the ones I had at home, and he even took the ones I had left at school. He took my A-level certificates, my fourth form certificates, my I.D., even my birth certificate. So for him I was not a person, and he tried to ensure that for everybody else I would not be a person either. He tried to erase my existence. I couldn't get a job, couldn't go to any institute: they needed my certificates.
I'm still in this situation. I can't confront my father: I don't have the strength. He is a very violent person. If he still has them-he may have burned them-he will never surrender them to me. I don't exist for him. And he has told all his relations to write me off.
I stay away from home. I feel I can only disappoint my mother and my grandma.
But I have come out. I have met other gay friends, who taught me ways I can behave in public as a gay person. I want to do counselling with GLOM, to help educate people about their gayness, sexual orientation, and sex. I want to be active in the community so that we see a gay consciousness arise in the town: so people know about it and learn to accept it, and themselves. Gay people can do more than sex. They can be active people in the community.134
The misery of rejection by one's family is compounded by the lack of either legal recognition or social respect for gay and lesbian people's own relationships. No state in the region fully acknowledges those relationships before the law. In the face of homophobia and silence, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people face sometimes-insurmountable difficulties in forming families of their own; a relationship of care, once founded, may be reviled by others or disregarded by authorities.
The irrationality, and the pain, this produces was brought home for many in Zimbabwe after the suicide, in October 1999, of Siphanilizwe Nyathi in Harare. "Phangi," as he was known to his friends, was a respected member of GALZ and a counsellor and father figure to many younger gay men. In an angry public statement, Keith Goddard said,
What we can say is that, along with all other lesbians and gays in this country, Phangi was forced to endure the numerous stresses and strains brought on by homophobia.
Society shuns us and equates us with gangsters and perverts and our relationships are criminalised.
We get no rest from persecutors and we see no chances for alleviation or escape, or any possibility of momentary respite or peace.
Phangi was one of our finest and most highly trained counsellors and provided a strong shoulder for those coping with the pressures and problems that accompany being gay or lesbian in Zimbabwe. Those he helped are now bereft and struggling to derive some small meaning from this ghastly tragedy.135
Nyathi's partner of eight years, Herbert Mondhlani, was shunned by Nyathi's family, who shut him out of burial and inheritance arrangements and expressly barred him from attending the funeral. However, a delegation of Nyathi's friends from GALZ attempted to attend and videotape the funeral for him. Nyathi's family had security guards drive them away. The state-sponsored Sunday News in Bulawayo, reporting on the event, quoted an indignant "source" present at the funeral as saying,
It is purely unAfrican. I have never heard of such a thing since I was born. How could a man ask to pay his respect to a deceased young man on the basis of a same sex relationship?136
Mondhlani himself placed memorial messages in several newspapers-itself an extraordinary act, as these memorials are usually reserved for the mourning of heterosexual spouses or blood kin. One read:
One month in God's eternal peace. I ask myself why Phangi? For eight years together we fought against bigotry, prejudice, ignorance, rejection and phariseeism.
Together we triumphed, won friends and made no enemies.
Why did you leave me to fight the last mile alone?
Herbert Mondhlani died in 2000.
"I've thought about suicide," Dominic S. says. Indications are that the rate of suicide or attempted suicide among young gays and lesbians-facing the prospect or the reality of both family rejection and rejection by society-is high. Phangi Nyathi was the eleventh member of GALZ (out of less than a hundred active members) to attempt or commit suicide in 1999 alone.137
Justin, from Mutare, Zimbabwe, says, "I feel very lonely, depressed, and at times distressed. I have these feelings of suicide, of wanting to try it, of not wanting to live this way anymore. Of twenty or more gays in Mutare, I know maybe half of those people who have tried to kill themselves."138
Simba Zwangobani in Zimbabwe remembers:
One time I really broke down. It was a four-day holiday, I was living at GALZ ... I tried to commit suicide. One of the office staff found me. I said, I will never do that again. But again another time I tried it. I've tried suicide three times in all.
I've heard before that most people look at me and say, he's so happy-I'm not happy most of the time. But I have a strong character.139
Dumisani Dube also tells of "another bad incident" in his own life:
In my last relationship, we had a very big problem. My partner's brother discovered we were gay. He told the family, who got down on my partner and insisted we break up.
I was so depressed. On December 31, 1999, I tried to commit suicide. I took sleeping pills. They took me to Parirenyatwa Hospital and I was saved. But it's hard to help having those feelings, when you see how the world around you looks on you.140
In Windhoek, Namibia, Simone, a young lesbian, says,
I was unhappy as a child. I knew I was different. I told my mother during an argument when I was sixteen. She told my father and they sent me to a psychiatrist. He told me that my problem was that I didn't accept who I was. That God intended for me to like men. I tried to pretend. It was like flying around with no airport to land at. I tried to kill myself. I cut myself-I wanted to make people understand the pain. I just wanted to be what I wanted to be.
My father and I fight. My little brother throws the Bible at me and tells me it's a sin. It can be very lonely. I kept all my feeling inside, all bottled up until the pain just took over. I didn't care. I thought, "I hate myself, I hate the loneliness, I hate the pain. I hate my life." So I tried to kill myself again. I still don't feel safe. Why don't they just leave us alone? We don't rape or beat or steal but still they call us criminals.141
Derrick, a youth activist with The Rainbow Project (TRP) in Namibia, tells how suicide has affected his life.
This year, a friend of mine committed suicide. He was having this argument with his mom-actually, he was one of my ex-lovers. He was having this argument with his mother and it was about something and his mother suddenly came up with the gay issues. "Yeah, you are going out with males-why don't you get yourself a girlfriend?" It started so small, from what I hear, and it got to be very nasty. And-he took tablets. He told his mom, "Mom, you already know that I am gay and I thought you already made peace with it, so why are you involving this issue in here? Then I really think I have to make an end to this life." And the mom thought he was just making a joke and said, "I really don't care if you kill yourself."
So he went to his room and took some high-blood pressure tablets, I don't know how much he took. Around 12:00 that evening he started vomiting, choking and the person working late nights rushed with him to the hospital, but it was too late. The doctor said it was too late, there was nothing they could do for him.
And two of my friends also tried to commit suicide. The Rainbow Project had a storytelling [event] and I did write something about how we should get the youth to stop trying to commit suicide, although I didn't know the answer. It was two pages. And, when I saw these people who had tried to commit suicide there, I did not have the guts to read it there, I didn't know if they would feel offended because they are my friends. So I just went on stage and read a poem only. But today I feel like I should have just read it, even if it offended them, I should have just done it.... It was just telling the youth, it's not okay to commit suicide, if you have got such a big problem, come and talk to the people, talk to the counsellors, talk to your pastor, your lawyer, someone you trust, your teacher....
And I also wanted to talk about my ex-boyfriend. Most of the youth at TRP knew him and how he committed suicide. And I wanted to tell them more about him, about how he was such a nice person. But in my mind I think he did a very wrong thing. I think he should have at least talked to me-but he was five hundred kilometers away. But still today I feel he should have said something, to me especially, He knew very well that he could count on me. I am very mad at him. I didn't even want to cry at his funeral, but the tears just came running down.142
Leila, a Namibian lesbian, also tried to commit suicide; the end of a secretive, five-year relationship left her devastated, friendless, and alone. She survived the attempt, and is struggling to build a different life. Not long before we spoke to her, she had told her mother she is a lesbian. Her mother was very upset; Leila made her promise not to tell her sisters: "I want to tell them on my own time."
She is volunteering with both Sister Namibia and The Rainbow Project, and both have given her much strength. She says: "The closet is a very dark room."143
For lesbians and bisexual women, economic needs are added to social and cultural preconceptions to create a burden of demands which many find all but unendurable. Families see an unmarried daughter as a debit in the balance sheet, the loss of lobola or bridewealth. Many activists interviewed for this report cited entrenched societal attitudes mandating that women be submissive, as well as attitudes toward sexuality which stress men's entitlement to sex and require women to satisfy men's sexual needs. In Namibia, TRP's Ian Swartz put it succinctly: "Women are men's property. They must do all the work and women are not allowed to say `no.'"144
In Zimbabwe, Tina Machida says,
The pressure in public is stronger on men, still. The pressure now in families, really, is mostly on women. Because with the men there is a certain attitude of "do your own thing." There is no respect for sons who go their own way, and families won't rally around them. But there is a sort of resignation to what is happening in their son's life.
But with women-even if the families say they accept their daughters are different, they don't: they still keep pushing for marriage and lobola. Some daughters give in and do what their parents want. Some daughters go away for good.145
In Namibia, Ian Swartz sees the pressure on women as coming both from community violence and family repression: but the two often work in tandem. Swartz confirmed that (as in Machida's own case) when families suspect that their daughter is a lesbian, they often arrange for a man to rape her. Swartz explained, "Women who are lesbians or heterosexual but not available to men will be dealt with. They face physical violence and the constant threat of sexual violence. About 25 percent of the women who call the TRP hotline are calling to report a rape. They usually don't tell us at first, but in a later conversation they will disclose being raped. They virtually never will tell us their names or where they live. What's worse is that some of their families honestly believe forcing their daughter to have sex will `fix' them."146
Even those daughters who are able to "go away for good" may not find freedom in doing so. The difficulties for women in living an independent life are profound. Irma, a young Namibian lesbian with an extremely "masculine" appearance, describes some:
I have always been different and everyone could tell. I remember when I was eleven thinking, "I am not normal." The teachers didn't like me and they would harass me. No one would stand up for me. I don't know who my father is and my mother is dead. Lots of times the teachers would not let me attend class. I dropped out. I don't have an identity. I need a birth certificate but I don't have one. It makes me worried about being deported.
I want to get a job. But I am afraid they will force me to be a woman. I live with an older woman. She is not a relative but she gives me a place to live. The men in the neighborhood tell me they will rape me. I try to avoid them, but it is hard. I can't go to the police, they will ask me if I am a man.147
Poliyana Mangwiro, herself from rural Zimbabwe, spoke about the problems women like her face:
Most black women, particularly in the rural areas, didn't even go to school. Those women will not even recognize the name lesbian: they will just say, "I have a feeling toward women." They can't imagine a whole lot of women without husbands-what a thing! And they have no skills that will help them live on their own.
Lesbians desperately need to know how to do something that will bring them income. Many lesbians are divorced. And if you divorce, you will have no job, no support, no education, and children to care for. Except that if they call you a lesbian, your husband will get custody of the kids, and you will lose them.
Some of these women are looking after three or four children. The society will not give them jobs, and they are forced to turn back to their parents.
We desperately need a project that will develop skills like handicrafts, design, cooking, things that women can do to help them get jobs and work.148
We spoke to Gloria, a twenty-three-year-old woman from the rural community of Masvingo, three hundred kilometers from Harare. Shy and reticent, she too did not use the term "lesbian," but said that she had noticed "these feelings" in herself at the age of seventeen. "Because of not knowing where to go," she said, "I kept it secret." At that time, she discovered an advertisement for GALZ in the newspaper, wrote a letter, and received an answer. Not until two years later, in July 2000, did she come to Harare and visit the GALZ Center.
Although she said her visit to GALZ "made me feel better," Gloria had never had a relationship with another woman, and she had never spoken to other women in Masvingo about her feelings. She believed there might be two or three other women in Masvingo who had similar feelings, but she would not raise the issue with them.
She is one of a family of several daughters; her father died in 1999. "They want me to get married now, my family, she says: "It is very late. They are expecting me to have a husband, and they have one picked out for me." The extended family ask her mother why Gloria is not married, and say: "We want lobola."
Gloria was unsure how she would respond. She feared how her family might react to her feelings: "Maybe they would chase me out. I don't know what they think." But she was also afraid to move to Harare, where "I don't know what I would do."149
Mangwiro's lesbian support group-or support group for women with feelings toward women-within GALZ had about twenty members at the time. Many, like Gloria, were from rural areas and only able to attend intermittently. Mangwiro herself had realized she had desires toward women fifteen years earlier. Her father had forced her into a polygamous marriage as a child. "I was a second wife when I was fifteen, and I ran away when I was seventeen. I didn't know I was a `lesbian.' But I was going out with my husband's first wife. We were close to each other. It was not a sexual relationship, but we held each other very tight."
After running away, "I came to Harare. I worked here for many years." A foreign friend introduced Mangwiro to GALZ.
In the 1990s, Poliyana married a second time: "Because," she said, "I did not want my father to kill himself." Her second husband was a GALZ member, gay himself and supportive of Poliyana's relationship with her lesbian partner.
"It helps me, in ways, to be married," she told us. "It is easier for a woman to have a husband to point to. But it makes me feel like I'm still in the closet. Everyone knows I am a lesbian. But I feel I have made a compromise. It's our compromises, though, that keep us alive."150
30 According to Keith Goddard, programmes manager of GALZ, the term also means someone believed to have both sets of sexual organs. E-mail communication from Goddard to Scott Long, Human Rights Watch, October 8, 2002.
31 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Carlos Mpofu, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, August 12, 2000.
32 E-mail communication from Keith Goddard, GALZ, to Scott Long, Human Rights Watch, October 8, 2002.
33 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Chipo (Tina) Machida, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 10, 2000.
34 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Poliyana Mangwiro, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 11, 2000.
35 "Tsitsi Tiripano Report on the incident that took place in Marondera," quoted in Submission from the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) to the World Conference Against Racism, 2001. On file with Human Rights Watch.
37 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Poliyana Mangwiro, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 11, 2000.
38 "Tsisti Tiripano Report on the incident that took place in Marondera," quoted in Submission from the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) to the World Conference Against Racism, 2001. On file with Human Rights Watch.
40 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Poliyana Mangwiro, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 11, 2000.
42 This and other quotations are from an IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Dumisani Dube, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2000.
43 Andrew Zhakata, "Coming Out of the Closet: Gays Fighting for Acceptance in Zimbabwe," National Observer, Zimbabwe, September 10-16, 1999.
44 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Dumisani Dube, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2000.
45 A letter to commission president, Eddison Zvobgo, requesting a seat, presented on the first day on which the commission received communications from the public, got no reply. IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Keith Goddard, GALZ, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2000; and "Mugabe Constitutional Comission ignores gay plea," SAPA-DPA, June 28, 1999. In the end the draft constitutional concentrated still more powers in the presidency, and expanded the government's authority to expropriate property. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), a civil society coalition, both campaigned for its rejection in a referendum in early 2000. The government lost the vote-a major shock to the regime, and one which increased its determination to employ intimidation and, if necessary, fraud in parliamentary and presidential elections that followed.
46 "Zimbabwe gay rights face dim future," BBC World News, November 17, 1999.
47 Text on file with Human Rights Watch.
48 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Sikhanyisiwe Ngwenya, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 11, 2000.
49 IGLHRC interview by Kagendo, with Wendell (not real name), Windhoek, Namibia, November 15, 2001.
50 IGLHRC interview by Kagendo, with Derrick (not real name), Windhoek, Namibia, November 15, 2001.
51 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Paul, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2001. Even relatively sympathetic approaches to homosexuality in Zimbabwe tend still to paint it as a phenomenon external to "tradition" or the country's identity. A text on transforming traditional cultural practices, approved for use in universities and teacher training colleges by the Zimbabwe Ministry of Education, devotes a page to homosexuality after a long, ambivalent discussion of bridewealth and a short condemnation of rape:
There is another aspect of contemporary sexual behaviour which is said to be not traditionally African, that is, homosexual behaviour. People often say that homosexuality is not a problem in African societies: it is taboo even to talk about it. Nevertheless, there are some new situations in which homosexual practices have become widespread.
One relates to the old colonial situation in which thousands of immigrant workers in towns and mines were crowded together in hostels, away from their families. In such situations, many men find compensation for the absence of family life in homosexual practices. Secondly, in prisons where men or women are confined together without company of the opposite sex, homosexual practices have developed in Zimbabwe as elsewhere in the world. Thirdly, homeless boys and young men on the city streets live and sleep together, with little opportunity to attract the affections of girls. Such boys and men frequently indulge in homosexual practices.
In these cases, we find homosexual practices developing in opposition to traditional cultural values because of the particular circumstances in which young men find themselves.
The ultimate conclusion is more tolerant than the government, which-perhaps unwittingly-endorsed the text, might prefer: "With the increasing prevalence of such practices, the cultural values change. People who perform homosexual acts no longer regard them with the horror that the culture demands.... As elsewhere in the world, and as happened with extra-marital sex, we can expect social antagonism to homosexuality slowly to erode." However, the text still identifies homosexual conduct not only as external to "traditional culture" (and it is worth noting that "culture" itself is earlier sweepingly defined as "everything that we learn in our society") but as allied with forces that unravel society, whether with crime, with the economic disruption of colonialism, or with the social as well as economic catastrophes that leave men and children homeless. Homosexuality is portrayed as something which men (primarily: women are mentioned only in prisons) practice only in "new situations"-indeed, only in extraordinary ones. M.F.C. Bourdillon, Where Are the Ancestors? Changing Culture in Zimbabwe (Harare: University of Zimbabwe, 1997), p. 43.
52 IGLHRC interview by Kagendo with Derrick (not real name), Windhoek, Namibia, November 15, 2001.
53 IGLHRC interview by Kagendo with Wendell (not real name), Windhoek, Namibia, November 15, 2001.
54 IGLHRC interview by Kagendo with Mike, LEGABIBO, Gaborone, Botswana, November 8, 2001.
55 Lazarus Jacob, "Running gays through the cultural spell-check," Free Press: The Media Magazine of Southern Africa, No. 5, 1995, p. 18.
56 IGLHRC interview by Kagendo with Ramashala, Windhoek, Namibia, November 15, 2001.
57 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Carlos Mpofu, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, August 13, 2000.
58 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Chesterfield Samba, GALZ, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 11, 2000.
59 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Nhlanhla N., Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, August 13, 2000.
60 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Musonda Chitalu, Lusaka, Zambia, July 26, 2000; he used almost the same language when interviewed in Goodson Machona, "Janet seeks sex change," Post, Zambia, July 23, 1998.
61 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Musonda Chitalu, Lusaka, Zambia, July 26, 2000.
62 Goodson Machona, "Janet seeks sex change," Post, Zambia, July 23, 1998.
63 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Musonda Chitalu, Lusaka, Zambia, July 26, 2000.
64 Vincent Zulu, "The story of Janet, the woman with a man's body," Times of Zambia, June 30, 1996.
65 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Musonda Chitalu, Lusaka, Zambia, July 26, 2000. It is astonishing that the Zambian court was willing to change Chitalu's registered sex and identity papers without his first having had sex reassignment surgery; many countries refuse to take this step even for post-operative transsexuals. See IGLHRC's Action Alert, "Rights for Ransom: Act Now to Defend Transgender Rights in Proposed Law," December 7, 2001, at www.iglhrc.org/world/w_eur/Spain2001Dec.htm, for a statement on the consequences of this refusal, as well as on the rights of pre- as well as post-operative transgender people to have their identities recognized before the law. (Importantly, however, a 2002 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in Goodwin v United Kingdom held that the refusal to change the identity papers of a post-operative transsexual violated protection for privacy and the right to marry and found a family in the European Convention.) In Chitalu's case, the readiness of the court to recognize in law Chitalu's own gender identification is laudable, but in all likelihood has less to do with an inclusive legal understanding of gender issues than with confusion in the face of an unprecedented case not anticipated in existing provisions.
66 It can thus encompass people born with so-called ambiguous genitalia-for instance, a clitoris that is viewed by a doctor as too large or a penis that is perceived as too small-as well as people with sex chromosome variations or other conditions. For more information on intersex people, and on the medical abuses to which they are subjected in Western countries in the name of "correcting" their conditions-which can include surgical mutilation or removal of "ambiguous" genitalia-see the website of the Intersex Society of North America, which also accesses a number of international links, at www.isna.org.
67 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Musonda Chitalu, Lusaka, Zambia, July 26, 2000. Chitalu says that the doctor who defined him as a "hermaphrodite" told him that his hormones were "fully in the male range" and that he had "male chromosomes." It is not certain that these opinions reflected the result of testing. "With me the condition is a bit advanced because of my age, so they said," Chitalu also remarked.
68 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Musonda Chitalu, Lusaka, Zambia, July 26, 2000. The Post article about Chitalu was written by the same reporter who had interviewed Francis Chisambisha, and appeared only nine days later; the reporter evidently contacted Chitalu in the hopes of extending or expanding his scandalous gay "scoop."
69 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Peter Joaneti, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 9, 2000.
70 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Chipo (Tina) Machida, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 10, 2000.
71 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with "Teresa," Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, August 13, 2000.
72 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Andrew K., Harare, Zimbabwe, August 3, 2000.
73 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Justin (not real name), Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2000.
75 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Chipo (Tina) Machida, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 10, 2000.
76 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Chauta N., Lusaka, Zambia, July 26, 2000.
77 Human Rights Watch interview with Ian Swartz, Windhoek, Namibia, July 16,2001.
78 "Angry mob beats suspected lesbians," Herald, August 29, 1999.
80 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Superintendent Wayne Bvudzijena, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 10, 2000.
81 GALZ, "Letter of Complaint from GALZ to Chief Magistrate," January 28, 1999. Magistrate Musabanya cited judicial privilege in responding that the complaint was "irregular"; the chief magistrate, in a letter to GALZ dated March 9, 1999, acknowledged that "your point was well made and well driven home," but declined to discipline or reprimand the magistrate.
82 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Chipo (Tina) Machida, Harare, Zimbabwe,August 10, 2000.
83 IGLHRC interview by Kagendo with Derrick (not real name), Windhoek, Namibia, November 15, 2001.
84 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Douglas M., Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2000.
85 The Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association (WVA) association was formed in 1989 to lobby for increased government assistance to veterans of the chimurenga or struggle against white rule. An alliance between the government and one section of the WVA led to the veterans' being used to spearhead the occupations of white farmland that began in early 2000, following the government's defeat in a referendum on a new constitution. Increasingly the government has mobilized bands of young men to carry out similar occupations and to intimidate opposition members: although these informal militia are mostly composed of people far too young to have fought in the 1970s, they are still popularly referred to as "war veterans." See "Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe," Human Rights Watch Short Report (New York: Human Rights Watch, February 2002).
86 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with "Wellington Ncube" (not real name) Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2000.
87 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Douglas M., Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2000.
88 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Kelvin, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 6, 2000.
89 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with "Teresa," Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, August 13, 2000.
90 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Edson, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, August 13, 2000.
91 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Simbarashe Zwangobani, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 5, 2000.
92 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Peter Joaneti, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 9, 2000.
93 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Simbarashe Zwangobani, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 5, 2000.
94 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with "Wellington Ncube" (not real name) Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2000.
95 Letter from Juan May Lopes-Pinto, operations manager, GALZ, to Mr. Banks, Sandro's Restaurant and Night Club, March 31, 1998. On file with GALZ.
96 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Romeo Tshuma, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 8, 2000.
97 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Chipo (Tina) Machida, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 10, 2000.
98 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Kelvin, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2000.
99 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Chipo (Tina) Machida, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 10, 2000.
100 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Chauta N., Lusaka, Zambia, July 28, 2000.
101 IGLHRC interview by Kagendo with "Princess Diana," Johannesburg, South Africa, November 28, 2001.
102 Liz Frank and Elizabeth Khaxas, "Lesbians in Namibia," in Monika Reinfelder, ed., Amazon to Zami: Towards a Global Lesbian Feminism (London: Cassell, 1996), p. 115.
103 Human Rights Watch interview with Sarah (not real name), Windhoek, Namibia, July 17, 2001.
105 Maggi Barnard, "Nujoma targets imperialism, gays," Namibian, August 19, 2002.
106 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Carlos Mpofu, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, August 13, 2000.
107 "CCN defends gay rights," Namibian, April 10, 2001.
108 Elizabeth Khaxas, "Putting love before the law: Churches debate the issue of homosexuality," Sister Namibia, November/December 2001, pp. 18-19.
109 Human Rights Watch interview with Elizabeth Khaxas, Windhoek, Namibia, July 17, 2001.
110 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Francis Chisambisha, Lusaka, Zambia, November 20, 1998.
111 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Patrick Modisaemang, Gaborone, Botswana, December 19, 1998.
112 Human Rights Watch interview with Sarah (not real name), Windhoek, Namibia, July 17, 2001.
113 Human Rights Watch interview with Isaiah (not real name), Windhoek, Namibia, July 18, 2001.
114 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Buumba S., Lusaka, Zambia, December 3, 1998.
115 Human Rights Watch interview with Isabel (not real name), July 18, 2001. IGLHRC and Human Rights Watch are concerned by sexual relationships which involve the potential for abuse of power, and urge states and institutions to enact safeguards which do not discriminate between same-sex and heterosexual activity.
116 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with a Catholic priest who wished to remain anonymous, Lusaka, Zambia, December 4, 1998.
117 Some such groups are evincing interest in Africa for the first time. Some, indeed, may have been freed to do so by the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa, which many U.S. fundamentalist groups had supported-a support which would at the time have severely impeded their outreach to blacks in South Africa or elsewhere in the continent.
118 "Ex-gay ministry soars in South Africa," Exodus International Update, November 1996.
119 "A life-changing trip to Africa," and "Blazing a trail of freedom in Christ," Exodus International Update, May 1999.
120 Vanessa Furlong, "Homosexuality: Christian counselling is the answer," Zambia Daily Mail, undated clipping.
121 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Reverend Roger Key, dean of the Anglican Church, Windhoek, Namibia, December 16, 1998.
122 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Reverend Roger Key, dean of the Anglican Church, Windhoek, Namibia, December 16, 1998.
123 Tangeni Amupadhi, "Church seeks to reach Nujoma: CCN wants to clear air," Namibian, May 16, 2001.
124 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Father Richard Chance, Gaborone, Botswana, December 19, 1998.
125 There were indications that funds from non-Anglican U.S. fundamentalist groups had been used to support the African position, and conservative stances more generally, at the Lambeth conference. See David Harris, "Lambeth Analysis," Anglican Journal (Anglican Church of Canada), September 1998, http://www.anglicanjournal.com/124/07/-lambeth01.html, retrieved August 24, 2002.
126 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Reverend Roger Key, dean of the Anglican Church, Windhoek, Namibia, December 16, 1998.
127 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Justin (not real name), Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2000.
128 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with "Teresa," Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, August 13, 2000.
129 Chipo (Tina) Machida, "Lesbians Have Always Been There," GALZ, No. 14 (Christmas 1994); confirmed in an IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Machida, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 10, 2000.
130 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Buumba S., Lusaka, Zambia, December 3, 1998.
131 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Peter Joaneti, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 9, 2000.
132 Human Rights Watch interview with Ian Swartz, Windhoek, Namibia, July 16, 2001.
133 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Buumba S., Lusaka, Zambia, December 3, 2000.
134 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Dominic S., Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2000.
135 "GALZ leader commits suicide," Standard, Harare, Zimbabwe, October 24-30,1999.
136 Quoted in Siphanbaniso Dube, "Gays spark row at funeral," Sunday News, Bulawayo, November 7, 1999. See also, "Gay man shocks family," Daily News, November 12, 1999. However, others were shocked instead by the family's intolerance. The independent press ran several unsually sympathetic articles, including a front-page interview with Mondhlani: "Gay to fight for rights," Daily News, November 13, 1999. Mondhlani, a state employee-he had worked for the University of Zimbabwe and for the National Railways of Zimbabwe-had been a GALZ member from early on, but had dropped out of the organization as it became more visible and political. The interview, which appeared in the country's only independent daily, painted or was edited to paint a relatively bright picture of gay lives in Zimbabwe: Mondhlani actually was quoted as saying that "Mugabe is our inspiration. His sacrifice during the liberation is what is inspiring us to fight for our cause." He also said that he believed "Mugabe's personal views are tolerant." Yet he also spoke out as a gay professional man, one who had had a long-term relationship with another man: to hear that voice was immensely significant in Zimbabwe.
137 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Dumisani Dube, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2000
138 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Justin (not real name) Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2000.
139 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Simbarashe Zwangobani, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 5, 2000.
140 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Dumisani Dube, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 4, 2000.
141 Human Rights Watch interview with Simone (not real name), Windhoek, Namibia, July 18, 2001.
142 IGLHRC interview by Kagendo with Derrick (not real name), Windhoek, Namibia, November 15, 2001.
143 IGLHRC interview by Kagendo with Leila (not real name), Windhoek, Namibia, November 16, 2001.
144 Human Rights Watch interview with Ian Swartz, Windhoek, Namibia, July 16, 2001.
145 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Chipo (Tina) Machida, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 10, 2000.
146 Human Rights Watch interview with Ian Swartz, Windhoek, Namibia, July 16, 2001.
147 Human Rights Watch interview with Irma (not real name), Windhoek, Namibia, July 18, 2001.
148 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Poliyana Mangwiro, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 11, 2000.
149 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Gloria, Masvingo, Zimbabwe, August 9, 2000.
150 IGLHRC interview by Scott Long with Poliyana Mangwiro, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 11, 2000.