Home » General » EU Envoy Rapped Over Gays

European Union Ambassador Mr Philippe Van Damme caused a stir at a sexual and reproductive health workshop in Harare this week after he told youths that there was nothing wrong with promoting homosexuality in Zimbabwe.

Speaking at the workshop hosted by the Southern Africa HIV and Aids Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS), Mr Van Damme said there was need to educate people so that they accept the practice, arguing that culture was dynamic.

“We should actually conscientise people to accept these homosexuals and let them know that people have got different sexualities,” he said. “We should move away from our culture and learn to accept the diversity of cultures we have. Homosexuals are also people and they should be accepted. Why should they be banished? If we read the Constitution’s section 66, it shows that every person has the right to live as one wants, so let us implement the Constitution.”

This did not go down well with cultural purists who deemed his message to the Zimbabwean youths unacceptable. Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe leader Archbishop Johannes Ndanga said Mr Van Damme’s reasons for promoting homosexuality were out of place.

“His reasons are not valid,” he said. “It’s their culture that is being dynamic and accepting all sorts of things, ours is not because it is a culture with purpose. That lecture to the youths was actually an abuse.

“Europe should help their delegate not to interfere with our culture because it shows that he is a diplomat with a different purpose in this country.”

Legal expert and zanu-pf provincial legal secretary for Harare Cde Danny Musukume said culture was fundamental to maintaining peace in the country, contrary to Mr Van Damme’s views that it should promote homesexuality.

“The Westerners have destroyed their culture and they are trying to destroy the Zimbabwean culture as well,” he said.

“Their interest in gays and lesbians is because they are trying to destroy our culture. It is very important for Zimbabweans to resist such cultures.”

University of Zimbabwe Political Science head Professor Charity Manyeruke said it was important for Mr Van Damme to respect the Zimbabwean culture.

“That discussion was irrelevant because the people he was talking to are minors,” she said. “Those discussions are for people who are above 18 years, not those minors he was talking to. He was actually abusing those teenagers. Before Mr Van Damme goes out to address society, he should first understand our culture and beliefs.”

Speaking at the same workshop, SAfAIDS deputy director Ms Rouzeh Eghtessadi appeared to support Mr Van Damme’s stance when she said she was happy that he had motivated the young people to make good decisions in life.

“We have managed to link the young people with the decision makers like the EU Ambassador so that their concerns are heard rather than us speaking for them and we are sure that doors shall be opened for them,” she said.

Ms Eghtessadi said youths faced almost the same problems which include violence, no access to information in terms of sexual reproductive health, maternal health and legal restrictions.

Source : The Herald