Swaziland lesbian murdered in latest anti-gay attack

Excerpts from a report in the Thought Leader blog of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper by Jabu Pereira, director of the South Africa-based human rights group Iranti-org:

Anti-gay attacks on the rise in Swaziland

Photos and articles about Kaylo Glover. (Photo courtesy of Jabu Pereira and the Mail & Guardian)
Photos and articles about Kaylo Glover. (Photo courtesy of Jabu Pereira and the Mail & Guardian)

Kaylo Glover, a young lesbian from Nhlangano, Swaziland, stepped into a bar with her friends on the early hours of Sunday morning. She was killed by an enraged man who did not want to be in the presence of lesbians. He left the bar, fetched an axe from his car, returned and killed Kaylo. Kaylo was rushed to hospital and her killers followed them to the hospital and chased her friends with axe. Kaylo’s friend ran as she heard one of the guys shout “let’s finish off these dogs”. Neither the nurses nor the doctors could reach Kaylo in time, she bled to death.

This is the second LGBTI murder in Nhlangano. Just a few months ago, a gay man known as Themba was murdered.

Kaylo was 26 years old. She was born and raised in Nhlangano. Proudly out and in a seven-month relationship, Kaylo was popular in her community. On the night that Kaylo went out to the night club in her town, she felt safe. She had always navigated the streets and was known for her kindness, warmth, and swag. Harassment did happen in Nhlangano but Kaylo often just shrugged off. On the night of March 15, her perpetrator was not going to have any lesbians socialising around him. He picked a fight, argued with them and later went to car to fetch an axe to finish off his utter expression of hate and anger.

When Kaylo’s mom spoke to Iranti-org, she was heartbroken. “I always walk with Kaylo, the guys always say horrible things and I tell her to ignore them. They killed her because she was a lesbian. She has never harmed anyone, or fought with anyone.” …

Logo of Iranti-org
Logo of Iranti-org

Iranti-org learned that in the previous month a gay man was murdered in Nhlangano.

“We don’t know what to make of these murders it is so disturbing and scary. Swaziland comprises mainly of traditional family structures, with extended families marked by a set of strong traditions and norms. Speaking about being lesbian, gay or transgender is very difficult and is often suppressed.

It is the usual silence of we know you exist, just don’t make a noise about it,” says Sane Mshengu, the director of Rock of Hope.

[Editor’s note: Since 2012, The Rock of Hope has been supporting, fostering and celebrating the LGBTI community of Swaziland. Through its work, The Rock of Hope uses trainings, advocacy and communication strategies to influence changes in policy and social practices. In recognition of the role that society plays in the creation of barriers to access to services, The Rock of Hope addresses human rights issues for the marginalized people and is dedicated to the building of a healthy and empowered LGBTI community in Swaziland. ]

Swaziland is one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies where human rights are far off the radar and where freedom of expression or a critique of the monarchy or the judiciary can mean a prison sentence. …

It seems Kaylo’s death has broken the silence around hate crimes in Swaziland. It is bringing attention to the poor human-rights situation in this country, where the monarch is so incredibly rich and its citizens are poor and where LGBTI persons live hidden, framed as “the other”.

Rock of Hope logo
Rock of Hope logo

Rock of Hope is a beacon of activism in Swaziland, with its limited resources and volunteers, it seems that more support and attention needs to be made to Swaziland.

Swaziland is up for review at the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review. Rock of Hope, Iranti-org and Gender Dynamix along with other human-rights organisations will submit a shadow report on the human-rights situation in Swaziland. …

For more information, visit Iranti-org and read the full article in the Thought Leader blog, “Anti-gay attacks on the rise in Swaziland.”

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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