Namibian President Orders Gay Purge
Telegraph, March 22, 2001
By Christopher Munnion in Johannesburg
Homosexuals in Namibia were in fear for their safety yesterday after
President Sam Nujoma ordered police to "arrest, deport and imprison"
In an outburst seemingly prompted by figures showing a sharp increase in
Namibias Aids infection rate, the ageing president said homosexuals and
lesbians should be purged from society. Members of the gay community predicted
that they would be forced to flee the country, probably to neighbouring South
Africa where freedom of sexual expression is protected by the constitution.
Mr Nujoma told students at the University of Namibia: "We do not allow
homosexuality or lesbianism here. Police are ordered to arrest you and deport
you and imprison you too." He blamed "foreign influences" for
homosexuality in Namibia, which he said threatened to destroy the nation.
Independent legal experts in Windhoek said they were unsure what action the
police could take to carry out the presidential order.
Jerry Ekandjo, Namibias home affairs minister, caused similar confusion
last year when he urged newly graduated police officers to "eliminate
gays and lesbians from the face of Namibia".
Ian Swartz, co-ordinator of the gay lobbying group the Rainbow Project,
said his office had been swamped with inquiries about emigration. His movement
had about 1,000 members but there were "many more Namibians who are
afraid to reveal their sexual orientation".
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