Two young men have been forced to leave a community in Swaziland after a relative reported them to the police for being gay.
The disturbing report by the Times of Swaziland is a sobering example of the widespread ignorance about homosexuality and human sexuality in general in rural communities and even in the media.
According to the article, the unnamed men, aged 18 and 21, moved to Mvutshini from the Lubombo region.
A source claimed that “They came to Mvutshini after being informed by unknown friends that there were many men without wives in the area. They came here to scout and freely practice their gay lifestyle since Mvutshini is a semi-urban area.”
One of the men’s aunt, Gugu Gadlela, who lives in the area and allowed them to stay with her, is said to have been told by neighbours that the “boys were proposing love to a number of boys and men in the area”.
The aunt then reported them to the local police. “My problem was that they were dragging my name through the mud by their actions,” said Gadlela.
“I was afraid of being labelled all sorts of names in the area and be accused of harbouring gay people in my house. My other problem was that local men would have ended up quarrelling with their wives and resorted to being gay because of the boys living under my roof,” she explained.
The boys were said to have told officers that even if they were arrested they would still be gay because that’s how they were created.
On hearing this, the furious aunt reportedly “beat the daylights out of them” with a belt before calling a community meeting.
At the meeting the men were ordered to leave the area immediately, which they did.
Gadlela told the newspaper that this was to stop them from perpetrating “immoral behaviour” within the community.
The Times quoted another gay man from the area, security guard Senzo Dlamini, who said that he would not leave despite being harassed.
The article uncritically repeated the widely held belief that homosexuality is “learned” when it quoted the man as saying that he “became gay after being sodomised by a Mozambican when he was 12 years old”.
It said that Dlamini also “admitted… that had he not been abused by the Mozambican, there are chances he could not have become gay”.
Homosexuality is illegal in Swaziland, an absolute monarchy in southern African which has a poor human rights record.