A former public servant who was fired for being at a hotel where Zimbabwe’s LGBT rights organisation was hosting a party is challenging his dismissal.
Raymond Sibanda was one of five people arrested at Bulawayo’s Windermere Hotel in December 2013 when police raided a Gays and Lesbians’ Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) end of year party.
Sibanda paid a $10 admission of guilt fine for public indecency and was released, reports New Zimbabwe. He was then charged with misconduct and fired by the Youth and Indigenisation Ministry from his job as a Mzilikazi District Youth Officer in July 2014.
Sibanda has now taken the ministry and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to the Bulawayo Labour Court arguing that he had the right to be in the same venue as an LGBT event and should be given his job back.
“The respondents allege that I was associated with gays, but the supreme law of the country, which is the Constitution under section 58, states that every person has freedom of assembly and association,” says Sibanda in court documents.
“Are the respondents therefore claiming that I was not supposed to be at Windermere Hotel just because there was a GALZ party being hosted there?”
Sibanda’s lawyer has also argued that the dismissal was disproportionate to the crime.
The ministry and the CSC have countered that Sibanda paid an admission of guilt fine for public indecency “linked to gay activities”.
“Admission of guilt entails that one is admitting to the charges preferred against him or her. Public indecency and gay activities by a public official who should lead by example in society are not tolerable,” claim the ministry.
“There is no doubt that Sibanda’s conduct, which may be judged by society, is tantamount to tarnishing the image of government and bringing the name of the ministry into disrepute.”
The ministry and the CSC pointed out that same-sex marriage is prohibited by the country’s Constitution and that homosexual acts, from sex to holding hands, are also illegal under the law, with penalties of up to three years in jail.