To the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, straight, open-minded and allies of the LGBTIQ movement, and basically all people of eSwatini.
Here is a free hug, that you deserve. SWAGAA is dead, and the leadership is enjoying the gravy train at the expense of the marginalised people of eSwatini.
Two weeks ago, the Kingdom of eSwatini was abuzz with excitement and trepidation for the first ever LGBTIQ Pride parade which was hosted on 30 June. The journey towards realising such a momentous event in a society that rejects difference was well documented, and few people could claim ignorance to the work that had been invested into it. Although, we anticipated that there would be resistance, nobody could have predicted that it would come from supposed allies of the LGBTIQ struggle.
On the 26th of June, the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) put out a statement directly denouncing their support for Pride as well as the work done by Rock of Hope to realise this. They did this, citing violation of religious beliefs that evidently condemn LGBTIQ identities. Most of us will know that Pride events around the world are demonstrations against the persecution and human rights abuses perpetrated against the LGBTIQ community. I am sure that SWAGAA also knows this.
In a modern world which sees the gains made by bloody battles for equality under threat of reversal, the recklessness and harmfulness of such a statement seems obvious. Furthermore, how an organisation that operates on the premise of countering abuse and offering support to victims of abuse can choose to be represented by ideologically harmful and dishonestly interpreted religious beliefs defies all logic. To stay on the topic of Christianity and homosexuality for a moment, it is a well known fact that that the Bible scriptures that are used to justify homophobia and the dehumanisation of the LGBTIQ community are willfully misinterpreted for the purposes of pernicious religious fanaticism. Using such reasoning to denounce an event aimed at affirming the human rights of citizens of eSwatini who are meant to be equal before the law, is quite frankly shameful and intellectually deficient. Sadly, this is not the first time that mouthpieces of SWAGAA have publicly defied the values they claim to protect, in favour of appeasing power and traditionalism.
A directionless, unspecific apology offered to the people of eSwatini for what “may have caused pain and confusion among the public” is nothing short of an insult. The media statement was well positioned
to aim its venom at the LGBTIQ community as well as Rock of Hope, who until now have not been apologised to. Not a single acknowledgement has been made for the harm that such a vindictive statement has caused the movement and the Pride event that so many looked forward to as a beacon of hope for change in our society.
What that event meant to the LGBTIQ community can never be quantified and for some, the underlying threat communicated in the statement by SWAGAA has confirmed the bigotry that resides even in those entities that claim to support us. SWAGAA, your longevity so proudly noted in your apology is in no way a measure of your relevance or impact. It is, in fact, a testament to the insidious nature of traditionalism and bigotry that disguises itself as progress – again a dishonest undertaking.
For a young non-heterosexual male, who was raised with the respectful and humane family values that sees humanity and kindness, over religious fanaticism, what is the first thing that should come to mind,
when an action group as old as time allows a PR statement, short of an insult to pass as an apology – an apology that was never solicited?
What SWAGAA did with the 26 June statement, was officially close their office for the young pupil who is struggling with their gender identity and expression and as a result suffers bullying at school and unwarranted abuse from their homophobic parent.
If SWAGAA is brave enough to spew bigotry, in contradiction to the values they purport to uphold, on public platforms, they should employ the same bravery in addressing the people they directed their venom at when offering an apology. Until such time, no apology has been heard by the ‘people of Eswatini’.
It pains us to see SWAGAA die a painful death, while the ‘people of eSwatini’ watch helpless.
Someone please fire the executive, or disband the whole organisation, and start from scratch!