The late Keith Goddard.

LGBT activists in Africa and around the world are in mourning following the death of Keith Goddard, director of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, last Friday.

Goddard, who was also serving as a board member for the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum and the Zimbabwe College of Music, died at the age of 49 after a short illness.

“It is with deep regret and sorrow that Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) informs all our friends and partners of the passing away of our Director – Keith Goddard, one of the champions for the struggle for lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people’s rights in Zimbabwe,” said the organisation on its website.

“Keith joined GALZ as a member in 1992 and was appointed as the Programmes Manager in 1996. In 2006 he was appointed as the Director, a position that he held till the time of his death. During his life and time with GALZ, Keith was instrumental in highlighting the challenges experienced by LGBT people.

“Although of small stature he had a voice that commanded authority and silenced any room he was in. Keith dedicated his life to the advancement of LGBT rights, human rights and his passion for music. The struggle for LGBT rights is a difficult struggle and in many instances in the history of GALZ Keith stood gallantly in the frontline. He dared where most men would not go.”

In the UK, members of the British LGBT human rights group OutRage! extended their condolences to the family and friends of Goddard.

“He was a true hero of the freedom struggle in Zimbabwe, and made a major contribution to GALZ’s campaigns and successes over a period of nearly two decades,” said gay rights activist Peter Tatchell from OutRage!

“We stood with Keith and his courageous GALZ comrades as they resisted state harassment, defended individual LGBT people, demanded their rightful place at successive Book Fairs and defied President Mugabe’s many public threats and attacks on LGBT Zimbabweans.

“Keith was also, like all GALZ activists, very brave: unafraid to take a public stand for LGBT human rights, despite police and government repression. He risked his liberty and life many times, speaking out against homophobia and transphobia, even though this marked him as a potential target for state and vigilante violence. The danger of kidnapping, arrest, imprisonment, torture and murder never deterred him.

“Keith will be remembered as a pioneer and hero of the LGBT liberation struggle in Africa,” said the organisation.

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