New Zimbabwe.com

EX-EU ambassador Van Damme backs gay school head

By Leopold Munhende

FORMER EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Phillipe Van Damme has waded into the ongoing uproar over a St John’s College deputy headmaster who last week torched a storm by revealing he was gay.

The school official, Neal Hovelmeier is in the eye of the storm after most parents whose children attend the elite school have demanded his stepping down for fear he may try to impose his beliefs on their children.

Similarly, the school board is unhappy with its senior employee for unnecessarily putting the learning institution’s brand in the spotlight all for the wrong reasons through the controversial disclosure.

The under-fire school head has a few backers in a largely conservative country which has failed to tolerate gays and lesbians.

National Patriotic Front spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire was blunt in his detest for gays.

“I call upon every gay person following my TL (time line) to declare their homosexuality so I block them now; I am prepared to do it all day or better still just unfollow me, you are welcome.

“I don’t need any homosexual on my TL, to hell! Anyone who believes in some stupid, liberal nonsense about gay ‘rights’ njani njani should as well unfollow me, I don’t care,” said Mawarire.

However, Hovelmeier found one backer in the outspoken diplomat who is now EU senior advisor on EU-Africa relations.

Posting on Twitter, Van Damme argued that some Zimbabweans’ argument that their culture did not allow them to accept homosexuals did not hold water as “culture is banal”.

“1. Homosexuality exists everywhere; not result of personal choice but fact 2. How society responds = culturally determined, but culture = dynamic &evolves 3. Non-discrimination = not cultural issue but #HumanRights principle 4.

He added, “Culture has2 evolve &recognize universal #HumanRights.”

While former President Robert Mugabe is a known critic for gays, current President Emmerson Mngangagwa has not publicly said anything on gays and lesbians.