by Melanie Nathan, via Mr. Gay South Africa™ East London, South Africa December 09, 2011 –
Following my earlier article about a physical attack on Mr. Gay Namiibia.
Lance Weyer, a representative councillor of the Buffalo City Municipality, which includes East London, Bisho and King William’s Town, issued a statement relating to the physical attack this week on the first ever Mr Gay Namibia, Wendelinus Hamutenya, who also issues a comment via his FaceBook account.
Weyer said: “This attack comes only months after the United Nations passed a resolution (proposed by South Africa) expressing grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The resolution passed with 23 votes in favor, 19 opposed and three abstentions, amid strong criticism of South Africa by some African nations.
In a press release from te organizers of Mr Gay South Africa it was noted that ” Africa is not a great place to live in if you are homosexual! South Africa is the only country in Africa where the rights of LGBTI people are fully protected in law. In Namibia, like most African countries, it is a crime to be gay.”
Sodomy is a crime in Namibia according to the archaic Roman-Dutch common law, which was imposed by the South African apartheid government. Common law is a legal tradition based mainly on precedent court verdicts, while there is no codified sodomy provision in Namibia. Laws that discriminate validate other kinds of discrimination. Laws that require equal protections reinforce the moral imperative of equality. And practically speaking, it is often the case that laws must change before fears about change dissipate.
Mr. Gay South Africa, Lance Weyer notes that both he and Mr. Gay Namibia happen to be members of their respective opposition parties. “Political freedom is not common place in Africa; hence it is not entirely impossible that the ruling party could be behind the attack. Their former president and founding father, Sam Nujoma, is an outspoken anti-gay campaigner.”
The fight for LGBTI rights in Namibia has yet to begin. Weyer says “I firmly believe that it is the responsibility of all of us to stand up for our brothers and sisters that are being persecuted in their homelands in Africa in particular. I would like to see us learn from and appreciate each other beyond sexual orientation, but at this moment in time that is a dream that is far from reality. It is nevertheless a dream that is well worth striving for! Alone we are weak, but together we are strong.”
Wendelius Hamutenya meanwhile posted on the Mr Gay World Facebook page that he is fine and will continue his struggle.
He said: “l personally would like to inform you that l am ok and fit to face [the world]. This kind of violence in various forms occurs to persons from different walks of life in my country. The relevance of this incident may have a connotation to my title; perhaps they thought I had heaps of “prize money” in my pockets. Likely it was my sexual orientation that made me a target – even my political support that angered them. Or perhaps, and most likely, it was just plain and simply out of greed.
I have strong opinions about various issues and I believe I have a nice way of reaching out to people. I find everyone interesting and I enjoy listening to a person’s life experience and thoughts and opinions when it comes to sexual orientation for instance.
I love my friends and I feel like a genuinely good person through and through who always has a smile on his lips. I don’t take myself too seriously and I am open which make people feel secure around me. We’re all different. I feel it is important to live one’s own life, and not through others. So as you can tell, I am a proud young gay Namibian man!”
I received e-mail responses from the organizers of Mr. Gay Namibia who spoke to me on behalf of Wendelius. I asked if any gay slurs were cited during the physical assault on Wendelius. Here are my questions and the responses I received:
Q: Did the attackers say anything anti-gay before during or after the attack e.g name calling such as queer or faggot or African equivalentthereof?
A: The attackers seemed to be intoxicated, and mentioned in Oshwiwambo that Wendelinus is the “Mr Gay winner with the prize money”. Direct anti-gay sentiments cannot be confirmed, but that the attackers where
likely regular petty thieves and saw Wendelinus as a soft target, alone in the street at that time of the night in Katutura (the traditionally black neighborhood) seems to be more apparent, having followed and known
of Wendelinus’s whereabouts.
Q: 2. Did they allude in any way at all to him being gay?
A: The mention of Wendelinus being Mr Gay Namibia was mentioned together with his prize money that seemed their apparent main interest.
Q: 3. Were they at the Title show itself?
A: Wendelinus confirms that he is in the capacity to identify the attackers, should he be requested to do so at an identification line-up. The two men were not identified to have been at the Title event, nor perceived to be openly gay/engaged within the gay community.
Both Weyer and Hamutenya will represent their countries at the upcoming Mr Gay World 2012 competition, which is to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, after the local producers, Mr. Gay South Africa (Pty) Ltd. won the hosting bid in Manila, Phillipinnes in March. The competition will run over 5 days from 4 to 8 April 2012, culminating in the Grand Finale at The Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City on Sunday 8 Apr. 2012 at 8 pm.