Top Zim school in homosexual storm

HARARE - The deputy head of one of the country’s most sought-after top private schools, St John’s College in Harare, has ignited a perfect storm in a society well-known for its homophobic tendencies after he publicly revealed to students that he is gay.

The elite institution comprises two all-boys wings — St John’s Preparatory School and St John’s College — both of which are independent day schools located in the leafy capital city suburb of Borrowdale.

Neal Hovelmeier — the second-in-charge of the private school’s senior wing — told cheering students yesterday that he had been inspired to come out of the shadows and to openly declare his sexual orientation by the learners.

His coming out, which followed media enquiries about his sexual orientation earlier this week — after frenzied speculation and a flurry of complaints from some parents — received mixed responses from the school’s stakeholders.

After addressing students in the school’s packed hall yesterday, Hovelmeier later released a press statement confirming that he was indeed proudly gay.

Although Zimbabwe’s current Constitution still prohibits same-sex marriage, it is silent on gay relations.

Some parents who spoke to the Daily News yesterday praised Hovelmeier’s “honesty” in the matter — adding that it had also sent a powerful message “of acceptance and hope” to students who were gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

However, other parents who oppose gay rights were left fuming, saying “homosexuality should not be a subject of discussion in the nation’s schools”.

Some parents also said that they were now fearful of the potential of their children either being introduced to homosexuality or suffering abuse.

A statement that was later issued by the school’s headmaster Cav Trinci and his deputy A Sakala supported Hovelmeier.

“This morning an extraordinary, plenary assembly was called at the college. At this assembly, a statement was delivered by one of our members of staff … Hovelmeier, of impeccable credentials.

“He is a man of complete integrity and whose record, over many years at this fine college of ours, is unimpeachable.

“It suffices for ... Sakala and I to say that this College Campus is a place where diversity is embraced and a safe and caring environment is provided for ALL persons regardless of race, religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, abilities or disabilities or any other real or perceived difference,” the statement said.

“We both strongly believe that the majority of members of our community are made up of people of tolerance and people who are respectful of others, and progressive enough to embrace this diversity within our constituency,” it added.

While for many years homosexuality was a dismissable offence in schools, and gay educators were at pains to hide their sexual orientation, it has increasingly been tolerated and embraced in some schools.

In his statement, Hovelmeier, said: “This morning, with the support of the headmaster ... Trinci, fellow deputy headmaster, ... Sakala, and the chairman of the board of governors, ... Msipa, I made an address to the students and faculty in which I made a declaration of my sexuality.

“I have always been an intensely private individual but in recent years as I have discharged my duties as head of 6th Form, I have become increasingly aware that a number of former students who gain the confidence after school to pursue their chosen orientation have reported back to me experiencing an environment of intolerance, intimidation and homophobia while they were at school”.

He added that he “felt increasingly troubled by the fact that we as an institution have never openly dealt with trying to curb homophobic behaviour and, equally, failed to provide a safe learning experience for students who may identify as being gay or bisexual to truly flourish and feel accepted”.

“I simply feel and believe that as an educator, I will be able to better address and advance this issue if I am prepared to be fully open and transparent about it myself.

“I also believe that it is integral to my own sense of personal integrity and professionalism that I deal with all students and stakeholders in an open and transparent manner. My only regret is that I did not make this disclosure earlier. I can assure you that at all times, I will continue to discharge my duties with the levels of professionalism I have endeavoured at all times to uphold,” Hovelmeier said.

“I have been very heartened and grateful for the truly overwhelming levels of support shown to me by students and staff alike, even in the short time since I addressed the school this morning,” he added.

But some of the parents who called the Daily News were apoplectic with fury, with a few of them saying that they planned to confront the school and to protest what had happened.

“This is simply unacceptable and they (the school) didn’t consult us on this outrage. They should be hanging their heads in shame for such a thing,” one of the parents said.

“We have always suspected that he is gay ... This is not good considering that this is an all-boys school. I can’t accept this,” another parent said.

Yet another miffed parent said: “In my biblical beliefs, they can go straight to hell”.

Interestingly, many of the students at the school appeared to have embraced Hovelmeier, as well as the school’s tolerance towards homosexuality.

One of the students said if any of their parents attempted “to roll back the school’s policy of tolerance, we will embark on a peaceful counter-protest”.

Another student was even more robust in his response, saying the parents who were opposed to Hovelmeier were “backward-thinking” and that their message of intolerance was “a disgrace”.

The St John’s College developments come as Zimbabwe’s gays and lesbians have recently welcomed the possibility of the ruling Zanu PF finally embracing gay rights.

Gays and Lesbians Association (Galz) director Chester Samba told a news conference two months ago that his organisation had approached top Zanu PF officials whom he claimed understood them better than the country’s former leader, Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe used to characterise homosexuality as “un-African”, a practice he believed was unnatural and “degrades human dignity” — asserting further that “there is no question ever of allowing these people to behave worse than dogs and pigs”.

Zimbabwe’s first post-independence president Canaan Banana was accused of being a homosexual, and was eventually jailed for sodomy.

Banana, a former Methodist minister who died in November 2003, was found guilty in 1999 of 11 counts of sodomy and abusing his power to sexually assault and carry out “unnatural acts” with men, most of whom were among his presidential staff.

However, Banana insisted until he passed on that he was not a homosexual, saying that the accusations against him were part of a “malicious vendetta” to destroy him.


Comments (20)

So what exactly is wrong with a man, at least being honest to himself and others, declaring he's homosexual? He's not sleeping with the boys, he's not converting anyone. All he's doing is giving your kids an education. Computers give your kids education, do you judge computers? You're dying of cholera and you worry about who Mr so and so is sleeping with? Do you worry about all the small houses some of the teachers have? If you're for morality maybe you should.

Moe Syszlack - 22 September 2018

I dont think its a problem being gay even in the bible its not condemned but homosexuality or sodomy is because of one , not hate. Sex was invented or lets say evolved with a formular x + y = xy & xx double Obits then x II y , single Obit states. But for x + x or y + y the output is null....xx and xy are invalid but of course in none sex friendships its perfectly OK to twin exos , its healthy , beyond that its not. The rules can be opposed but there are side effects , e.g HIV in men. Lesbian women will tell you that they are not 100% into women....they do fancy guys but its like picking a few cherries from an apple basket full. Those are childhood issues , Mr Hovelmeier had a problem in his child times and a closer look into his relationship with his parents or step parents could solve his issues...and Mr Shumba too. Its a personal thing.

Sex procreates - 22 September 2018

There are married men with families that do have sex with other men , at least 20% of homosexuals i guess....most do it money. Now please tell their wives that it's OK and let me know if they will be OK with it. Sodomy is not healthy...being gay is fine.

Sodomy is not family - 22 September 2018

I don see any problem with that he is just telling them, but it does not mean he is going to sleep with the students and some of those students myt be gays who knows and they like to be encouraged because its something that was born in them its not by choice i guwss

Lagton Bhunu - 22 September 2018

His sex lies has nothing to do with an education and the school, this shameless pev . This was un called for. The timing means 'they' are hiding a sexual crime around children and continue an evil cause.

Out of bounds - 22 September 2018

Our constitution has accepted that people could be born blind or gay that is not a crime. Some could be celibate and gay. Gay rights to the extent of gay marriage calls for a referendum. As long as minors are not abused.

Mufaro Sibanda - 22 September 2018

Rights and freedom.......%YES

HC Ndoro - 22 September 2018

Cheap Zim elitism - Its not the league of Hilton college , the Bishops school in cape....Hurtwood house , Tonbridge School , Winchester college in Britain etc. Come on..??? , my muzukulu in Makokoba can get a place in any of those good schools and i will pay for it. --Get on with your job or move on...and no gay education.

Dhoti bodo - 22 September 2018

The kilt....Oh , dear ?? ;-(

-øvø- - 22 September 2018

Gayness is racism. Where they gain control they never accept anything different , in the work place , a neighborhood , even a government - they are a dangerous movement that will control the world at some point. Rights and freedom , what rights ? as you wish in your private lifes.

Territorial army - 22 September 2018

St J's code of ethics for teachers is appalling.

Hey teacher leave those kids alone... - 22 September 2018

Before we go this far , let us ask ourselfs this important simple qn: how many Europeans in our country ever married a native person ??...i know most of us we dont fancy them or they dont fancy us but we do tango dont we ? , we have a sizable population of mixed race and i have had a few encounters with rhodie babes (chicks) overseas.

Hang on a munite.... - 23 September 2018

Gays, lesbians.... worse than dogs. How can all animals know that a male mates with a female, yet human beings choose to be perverts. Mugabe was right. Yu guys just need shamboks...or just locking yu up for the next 90 years until our society is cleansed of such malcontents

machoman ndiweni - 24 September 2018

I have a problem kidf , i cant find the baby pafh :>( ??. -Ok Sir , its this one (!).

Anatomy 4rd form class - 24 September 2018

No one is born a homosexual or lesbian or whatever he/she its your choice based on the following Scripture: ROMANS 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own heart, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into which is against nature: 27 and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.

ngiso - 24 September 2018

I trust this ourage is matched with thsoe who commit adultery, break that 7th commandment, and ignore Jesus's teaching on people who get divorced must not remarry, or they will be committign adultery. And that is NEW Testament, not the Law of the Levites under Moses. Most Christians today will be denied by Jesus one day. Hypocrites Monday to Saturday, holier than thou on Sundays.

Cast the First Stone? - 25 September 2018

In my day all the gays used to congregate at St Georges boys college

ace mukadota - 25 September 2018

I think the whole admin should be fired. The ministry of education should do its job and protect the children. The government should persecute him and his supporters for this illegal act. This whole announcement maybe a smoke screen for a much worse situation. There is a reason why female teachers are not allowed to go into boys changing rooms and vice versa. And you are telling me that this guy is walking into locker rooms while boys are changing. looking at their bodies, and the Parents are ok with it? If priests had issues with sodomizing boys what more of this guy. the so called "cheering " students have been brainwashed by him. How many hours does he have them at his disposal everyday and sometimes weekends. Is there no parent who loves his children enough to pick up the phone and call the Police. The Head is equally responsible for the deputy's action as he is in support of them. Both should go or the school should be closed,

Truth - 26 September 2018

Ngiso is right 100%. Is this country degenerating into Sodom and Gomora? People of Zimbabwe must be guided by the bible. ROMANS 1:24 - 28. Former President Robert Mugabe never compromised on this issue. No wonder he has lived long. We want action from authorities NOW!

liberty - 27 September 2018

Please will all the religious freaks please keep their bible stories or fairy tales to themselves. It is the 21 st century and its time to leave gays to do whatever they please - live and let live comrades

ace mukadota - 28 September 2018

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