By NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) has started a process of engaging universities and other higher learning institutions as part of a broader strategy to strengthen academic freedom of members of their community who face homophobic attacks.
This follows a research undertaken by GALZ in January 2019 showing that the lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex (LGBTI) community faces rights violations at higher tertiary institutions with no clear or ready mechanism to deal with the discrimination.
GALZ director Chester Samba told Standardpeople that the organisation’s engagement with tertiary educationinstitutions is informed by results of its survey showing that members of
their community face right’s violations.
“We are working to foster student development in an environment that is appropriate, non-stigmatising and non-discriminatory and formulating strategies to reduce presence of homophobia
and transphobia in institutions of learning,” he said.
The GALZ “campus climate survey” sought to, among others, explore incidences of harassment of sexual minority students on campus, examine stressors and behaviours that are distinctive
to the LGBTI and its impact on academic learning.
“So far the university is not so open to support LGBTI even though there are some members of staff who are accepting and understanding to our issues.
“We have a long way to go before the inclusion of LGBTI people in universities,” the LGBTI survey report reads in part.
“Most institutions are blind when it comes to issues of sexuality and them refusing to confront such realities is what is making most LGBTI persons suffer from depression.
“The universities in Zimbabwe are so much inclined to government ideologies which are profound on an individual and claimed to be cemented by tradition.
“The results from this campus climate study indicate that there is need to invest in engaging universities and the parent ministry to address campus climate concerns regarding sexual
orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.”
Institutions targeted in the GALZ research include the University of Zimbabwe, Great Zimbabwe University, Midland State University, Marondera University of Agriculture Sciences and
Technology, Lupane State University, Bindura State University, National University of Science and Technology, Chinhoyi University of Technology, Gwanda State University and Manicaland
state university of applied sciences .