Ricky Nathanson (Facebook)
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) has expressed its outrage at the arrest and planned trial of Ricky Nathanson, a transgender woman in Bulawayo, for using a women’s toilet.
On 16 January, a group of young men – described as Zanu PF youth – made a citizen’s arrests when Nathanson used the female bathroom at the Palace Hotel.
She was taken to the police and reportedly underwent a physical examination at a local hospital to ascertain if she is biologically male.
Nathanson was then charged with “criminal nuisance”. At a court hearing on Tuesday it was revealed that some of the men who detained her had also made unspecified threats against her.
GALZ said in a statement that Nathanson “may have been treated in an inhumane and undignified manner during the arrest and subsequent detention in police custody before her court appearance”.
The group commented that “this is a miscarriage of justice. In a country where the right to one’s gender identity and gender expression are not recognised, it is clear in the handling of this matter that the sensibilities of heterosexists have been disturbed”.
GALZ accused the police and local media of “ignorance” on matters of sexuality and gender by their referring to Nathanson as “gay”.
The organisation called for further training of media practitioners and police officers on human rights and the new Zimbabwe constitution. It also urged the Prosecuting Authority to not waste taxpayers’ money and to drop the frivolous charge against Nathanson.
GALZ further commented that public toilets in cities across the country are “in a deplorable state” and demanded their “speedy refurbishment and operation”.