Friday, October 14, 2011


Mgwagwa Gamedze, the Acting Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Swaziland, lied to the United Nations when he said that gays and lesbians in the kingdom had not asked for repressive laws to be overturned.

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

This simply not true and Gamedze knows it. In fact, one of the written submissions to the working party was from HOOP (House of Our Pride), a support group for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Inter-sex (GLBTI) in Swaziland. (Click here to read it).

It listed a range of discriminations that GLBTI people in Swaziland suffer, including in faith groups, at work and through police harassment.

In its submission, HOOP stated the Swazi Government needed to do more for LGBTI people. ‘These measures include: the de-criminalization of LGBTI practices currently treated as sodomy and the provision of extensive health care.’

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

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

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

So there you have it. Gamedze lied to the UN working party. LGBTI people have challenged government policies and they want laws changed.

Gamedze told the working party that the government would only look into the GLBTI issues once these polices had been ‘challenged’.

The policies have been challenged, so now the government must look into them. Unless, of course, the promise to do so is just another lie from Gamedze and the Swaziland Government.

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