The human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell of the UK’s gay campaign group, Outrage has attacked a senior member of the Namibian government for homophobia.

Ms Mushelenga, Deputy Interior Minister for the African state made remarks deemed offensive during the country’s Heroes Day celebration held in the village of Omaalala in the Oshana Region.

Ms Mushelenga claimed that lesbians and gay men betrayed the fight for Namibian freedom, are responsible for the HIV/AIDS pandemic and are an insult to African culture.

Peter Tathchell in condemning her comments said, “Her hateful comments can only stir up intolerance and divide Namibian society. The truth is that many LGBT people were involved in Namibia’s liberation struggle against South African occupation. They battled side-by-side with their straight comrades to free their country.”

The comments made by the Minister were also condemened by Fadzai Muparutsa of the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe Campaign Group, he pointed out that HIV/AIDS is primarily spread by straight couples in Africa. “To blame lesbian and gay people for the spread of HIV in Africa is reckless and foolish. It is well known that transmission of HIV in southern Africa is largely through heterosexual sex but, that said, all of us, and especially those like Ms Mushelenga who are in positions of authority, should avoid pointing the finger at anyone, especially vulnerable minorities. The Deputy Minister should concentrate her energies on more practical and humane approaches to HIV/AIDS interventions.”

In 2000, Namibia’s Home Affairs Minister, Jerry Ekandjo, was reported on state television to have urged newly graduated police officers to “eliminate gays and lesbians from the face of Namibia”.