Friday, February 24, 2012

A Bit of Celebration in South Africa's Gay & Lesbian Community


Sibusiso Banda
@sbudalicious

Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe but Taurai Zhanje takes part in Mr Gay World.
The gay and lesbian community in South Africa has gone through a lot lately, but they can finally take a breather and celebrate a bit despite the many challenges facing the community in the country. Mr Gay World is coming to Johannesburg in April and there are four African countries participating, the largest number from the continent in the competition’s history. This is despite homosexuality being illegal in over 30 African countries. Another reason for celebration, although bitter-sweet, would be the recent sentencing of the murderers of Cape Town lesbian, Zoliswa Nkonyane.

Mr Gay Ethiopia, Robel Gizaw Hailu.
In the Mr Gay World competition, organisers say there will be participants from Ethiopia, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Homosexuality is illegal in all those African countries even though the law is hardly enforced. Zimbabwean contestant, Taurai Zhanje, will struggle to convince authorities to accept his decision back home as the country is going through constitutional reforms with gay rights left out. The newzimbabwe.com quotes President Robert Mugabe saying about gay people: “All of us at some point in our lives have raised dogs, and we know that in raising them you need a female and male to mate in order to have puppies. Now, if even dogs know that to procreate you need a male and a female, what of us humans? They want men to wed men! That’s what we reject.”

Ethiopia - the seat of the African Union - will be represented by Robel Gizaw Hailu, Wendelinus Hamutenya will represent Namibia with host country – South Africa – where gay marriages are even allowed represented by Lance Weyer.

Mr Gay South Africa, Lance Weyer.
A few weeks ago celebrations started outside court in Cape Town after Magistrate Raadiya Whaten handed down an 18-year jail sentence to Lubabalo Ntlabathi, Sicelo Mase, Luyanda Londzi and Mbulelo Damba for the 2006 murder of 19-year-old lesbian, Zoliswa Nkonyane, from the township of Khayelitsha. This was a clear sign that murder and homophobia will not be tolerated by South Africa’s courts.

Despite this outcome there was much criticism in the manner the police handled the case with some saying there was shoddy police work which resulted in about 50 postponements. Nkonyana was stabbed, beaten, clubbed and kicked to death in February 2006. During sentencing, Magistrate Whaten, said the brutal killing of the teenager was fuelled by hatred and intolerance. 

Zoliswa’s mother broke down in tears in court as sentencing was taking place. With the four men in Pollsmoor, others will now know that crimes against gay and lesbian people will not go unpunished. 

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