Police in Swaziland / Eswatini are investigating a woman officer who came out as a lesbian at the kingdom’s LGBTI Pride event.
Chief Police Information and Communication Officer Superintendent Khulani Mamba confirmed this to the Swazi News. ‘Deliberations are going on so I can only discuss it afterwards,’ Mamba said.
He said they were trying to determine whether police officers were allowed to attend LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) Pride events.
The newspaper reported on Saturday (7 July 2018), Mamba ‘went on to state that they had seen her pictures and interview in last weekend’s publications and clarified that she was participating in her own accord’.
Swaziland held its first LGBTI Pride parade the previous Saturday and many photographs appeared in Swaziland’s national newspapers.
Homosexual acts among men are illegal in Swaziland but there is no law restricting women’s activities.
In the run up to the LGBTI Pride the Swaziland police went on record to state it did not support the march. Separately, Mamba, the official spokesperson for the police and a self-proclaimed prophet, preached from the pulpit, ‘We say no to homosexuality, this country will not tolerate the LGBTI community.’
One of the kingdom’s best-known NGO rights activist groups the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) snubbed the Pride festival saying it was against Biblical teaching.
Swaziland is a tiny landlocked kingdom with a population of about 1.1 million people, mostly living in rural communities. It is ruled by King Mswati III who is one of the world’s last absolute monarchs who reportedly described homosexuality as being ‘satanic.’
In the run up to the event, the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, ran three articles calling LGBTI people ‘a curse’ and ‘evil’ and likening them to child sex molesters and people who had sex with animals.
The Swazi News reported that the woman police officer had ‘come out’ as a lesbian and publicly participated in the Pride event.
It reported ‘Despite that she has come out, she requested that her identity be protected, not because she was afraid but because of her work, where it still has not been fully accepted.’
It added, ‘Her confidence during the interview can be said to be that of one who can withstand stigmatisation as many public service employees are afraid to declare their standing in society when it comes such issues.
‘The officer, when asked what advice she had for public servants who are part of the LGBTI community but are afraid to come out, said they should continue to live their lives and not be ashamed of who they are as God can be the only judge.’
The News reported her saying, ‘Some people who judge are hypocritical, because there are things that they do behind closed doors that we do not know.’
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