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Out-Right Namibia (ORN) calls on Mr. Hamutenya and The Villager to respect people’s right to privacy and dignity

in NAMIBIA, 08/02/2013

Although there is increased tolerance of sexual minorities in Namibia, we however acknowledge that there is still a long way to go before we can achieve the full realization and recognition of the rights of LGBTI people, and we fear that tactics such as those applied by Mr. Hamutenya negatively affect the process, and perpetuates the negative stereotypes attached to LGBTI people.

It is with great concern that Out-Right Namibia (ORN) has taken note of a statement by Wendelinus Hamutenya, entitled To be or not to be gay, published by The Villager on 04 February 2013.

As an NGO representing and lobbying for the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Namibians, ORN is concerned that Mr. Hamutenya wants to lead the debate on sexual minorities by naming those “who try to hide what is obvious”.

Although he was stripped off his title Mr. Gay Namibia 2011, Mr. Hamutenya appears to feel that his crowing as Mr. Gay Namibia for 2011/2012 also gives him the responsibility to undertake this action.

ORN would have wholeheartedly agreed with and supported Mr. Hamutenya if he had chosen to lead the debate on sexual minorities in Namibia during his reign. However, we would not have supported Mr. Hamutenya if he chose to “openly debate the issue of gays and lesbians without fear, favour or retribution”, in the manner he chooses to do so now.

ORN is of the opinion that we cannot have a constructive debate by naming and shaming those who choose not to declare their sexual orientation publicly for fear or stigma and discrimination. The reality is that we live in a society where alternative sexual orientations or gender identities are frowned upon. We still have Namibians who are rejected, isolated and victimised by their family and community if they disclose, or are forced out of the closet by circumstance or the disclosure of their sexual orientation by another.

We must admit that there is increasing tolerance of sexual minorities in Namibia among communities, the media, and in particular by political leaders who have not made homophobic statements in recent years.

We however acknowledge that there is still a long way to go before we can achieve the full realization and recognition of the rights of LGBTI people, and we fear that tactics such as those applied by Mr. Hamutenya negatively affect the process, and perpetuates the negative stereotypes attached to LGBTI people.

Furthermore, ORN is highly disturbed by Mr. Hamutenya’s declaration that he’s been
supplying “boys” to these well-known individuals for sex at a price. We are shocked and outraged by this and call upon him to immediately cease such actions.
Mr. Hamutenya also states that he does not mean to “hurt anyone or break families” by disclosing a list of well-known personalities “who are involved in gay activities clandestinely”, but that is exactly what will happen if he discloses the identities of these individuals.

Not only will families be destroyed, these individualized will be victimised at work and by their communities. There may be so much pressure that some may attempt suicide to escape the public’s wrath, and this is not what ORN would want for anyone.
ORN thus hereby calls upon Mr. Hamutenya and The Villager to cease any action regarding the disclosure of LGBTI Namibians who choose to keep their sexual orientation private.

We appeal to you to respect the privacy and dignity of these individuals and allow them to deal with the challenges of being an LGBTI Namibian privately. If these individuals lived and worked in a society that accepted them for who they are, they would not have engaged in marriages and relationships to satisfy an intolerant society's demands. Let us thus work towards achieving a society that accepts everyone as equal, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. A society within which people can engage in relationship with people they are truly attracted to, and not people society expects them to be attracted to.

As an NGO responsible for addressing the marginalization of LGBTI Namibians, we
recommit ourselves to ensuring their equality, dignity and safety.

For more information:

Linda RM Baumann- Director
Tel: +264 61 245556 / mobile: +264 81252 8259

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