Wednesday, March 28, 2018


A schoolteacher in Swaziland is being hounded out of her job because parents think she is a lesbian and a danger to their children.

It highlights the prejudice members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community in the kingdom face in their daily lives.

The Swazi News reported on Saturday (23 March 2018) that the teacher in a school it did not name in the Shiselweni Region dressed like a man. 

The newspaper reported, ‘Interviewed pupils confirmed that they now have to address the teacher as Mr and no longer Miss, which was the case before. 

‘While the pupils have come to terms with the teacher’s sexual orientation, the community is having none of it and want her removed.’

The newspaper said parents complained that the teacher being a lesbian would affect their children. The parents are demanding the teacher be transferred.

LGBTI people suffer discrimination throughout Swaziland which is a deeply conservative society ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

In June 2017 Swazi Senators threw out a motion to make a report on access to health facilities for LGBTI people because it was ‘discrimination’ in favour of them.

The Times of Swaziland reported at the time the debate threw the Senate into ‘chaos’. It said, ‘As they made their submissions, the senators turned the House into a place of laughter as they would use examples to describe how LGBTIs engaged in sexual games, which they said was wrong and put them at risk of infections.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also




No comments: