THE Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (Galz) yesterday criticised the arrest of a prominent Bulawayo model coach for using a ladies toilet saying he was not to blame for the confusion.
Ricky Nathanson, a transgender, was apprehended by a Zanu PF activist last weekend at a local hotel before he was handed over to the police who detained him overnight.
He appeared in court twice this week charged with being a criminal nuisance. Galz said it was concerned that Nathanson could have been treated in an inhumane and undignified manner during the arrest and subsequent detention in police custody before his court appearance.
“We are surprised that the police have chosen to persecute Ricky for using a toilet,” Galz said in a statement.
“It is common knowledge that on numerous occasions in this country men and women continue to share public toilets as most of these facilities are in a deplorable state in various cities across the country and in need of urgent attention.
“The state of these public toilets continues to be unacceptable yet the ‘law’ has turned a blind eye.”
Galz said the handling of the case had violated Nathanson’s rights.
The media and the police were accused of being insensitive and ignorant in the way they handled the case.
“Such is the ignorance of the police and media on matters of sexuality and gender that they refer to Ricky as ‘gay’ and insist on charging her for criminal nuisance,” Galz said.
“There is clearly a need for further training of media practitioners and police officers on human rights as well as operationalising the new Zimbabwe Constitution which is clear on the fundamental human rights and freedoms of people, particularly the provisions of Chapter 4, Sections 50 (5)d,51 and 53 in this matter.”
The group also called on the prosecutors to drop the case saying Nathanson’s prosecution was a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“As concerned citizens, we demand the speedy refurbishment and operation of public toilets across Zimbabwe,” Galz said.
“The dignity of Ricky and other women and men in Zimbabwe must be restored and preserved.”
Galz is an organisation representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Zimbabwe.