Out-Right Namibia (ORN), has expressed concern about anti-gay remarks, allegedly made by Deputy Finance Minister Natangwe Ithete, saying it could incite homophobia. Out-Right Namibia is a non-governmental organisation representing and lobbying for the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Namibians.
In a press statement, ORN Director Linda Baumann said that ORN is concerned about Ithete’s remarks which she says are misleading the nation and instigating direct homophobia and transphobia within the country.
“It is imperative to note that the Namibian LGBTI community are inherently citizens of this country, the African continent and contributors to the very ministry he is directing. ORN seeks to advance that the utterances made by the deputy minister does not carry any merit nor basis to substantiate his position which clearly outlines lack of understanding of the Namibian LGBTI community and thus portrays clear personal prejudice from his side,” she said.
Last week, a local weekly publication reported that Ithete launched a scathing verbal attack on homosexuality, declaring to Ministry of Finance staff in Walvis Bay that African culture does not entertain gays. Ithete allegedly accused foreigners for coming into Namibia under false pretences and selling the idea to local cultures that homosexuality is acceptable.
“You are either a man or a woman. Don’t come from outside and tell us this is acceptable. They must keep their gay activities in their countries. We will not entertain any of this gayness,” Ithete allegedly said. Ithete is said to have made the remarks while on a familiarisation visit to the ministry’s western region.
Baumann said ORN would have wholeheartedly agreed with and supported Ithete if he had chosen to lead a dialogue that advances inclusive service delivery to all Namibians.
“Out-Right Namibia wants to remind Minister Ithete that no LGBTI Namibian person has made a choice to be homosexual and or be a target of discrimination, prejudice and stigma. No homosexual aspires to be the opposite sex thus it’s imperative that the minister familiarise himself with the understanding of issues of sexuality, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and broadly the inter-connection of human rights for all,” Baumann said.
She further said ORN grossly condemns his position and upholds the current government’s motto of “inclusivity” with no segregation of preference of any Namibian citizen.
Baumann said Out-Right Namibia wants to remind “… you (Ithete) that there are no gay rights nor do we as a community want any form of special rights.
“As a movement we directly call upon government to recognise our existence in the country and to affirm key issues affecting us, as there is a lack of inclusion in interventions made by government,” she said.
She also called on Ithete to acknowledge that LGBTI people live in a country of diversity and within such existence the Namibian LGBTI community has contributed to the peace, stability and prosperity of the nation.
Bauman says there is increasing tolerance of sexual minorities in Namibia amongst communities, the media, and in particular by political, religious and traditional leaders who uphold the dignity of all citizens.
“As an NGO responsible for addressing the marginalisation of LGBTI Namibians, we recommit ourselves to ensuring their equality, dignity and safety. With that said ORN invites Mr Natangwe Ithete and anyone else who so wishes, to our offices for an engagement and familiarisation on the LGBTI movement in Namibia,” Baumann said.
By Gordon Joseph: Namibian Sun