The first winner of Mr Gay Namibia has started a bid to become a member of parliament, Gay Star News can exclusively reveal.
Wendelinus Hamutenya is campaigning for a position on the parliamentary list of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) party’s national convention which will take place next month.
RDP is an official opposition party breaking away from the powerful ruling Swapo Party and won eight seats in the 72-member parliament in the 2009 elections.
‘I want to be the voice of all the people. I don’t want Namibians to look at me as a homosexual but as a human being who is capable to lead like anyone else,’ said Hamutenya, who is one in the top 10 members of the party’s central committee.
The outspoken gay activist was also chosen as one of the 20 representatives from the youth league to November’s national convention.
‘I will still speak up for gay rights as politics will never discourage me to do so,’ he added.
That pledge enforces his commitment to continue to be an outspoken activist for the LGBT community if he wins a seat in parliament.
Hamutenya is determined to win a place on RDP’s parliament candidate list as Namibia prepares for its parliamentary and presidential elections later next year.
‘Time has come for older politicians to step down. I have no fear and favor and RDP knows that, as I only fear God,’ he said.
In the Namibian political arena only one party is led by a younger person while others, including RDP, have elderly politicians in their leadership positions.
Monica Nambelela, secretary general of RDP youth league told Gay Star News in her personal capacity that Hamutenya sexuality is just a drop in the ocean as personality and determination counts more.
‘He [Hamutenya] is acquainted with challenges in Namibia and Africa. Gays have massively contributed to their countries in a positive way. Look at Berlin’s gay mayor who transformed his city,’ she said.
Nambelela said her party has the youngest member of parliament and will always fight for more to enter parliament. Nambelela described Hamutenya as a popular figure who is very hard working.
In August the aspiring politician got engaged to his boyfriend from Botswana and is busy planning for the December wedding.
‘Which law forbids men from marrying each in Namibia? I will challenge this (marriage) law that only talks about opposite-sex marriages,’ he said.
Namibia, which gained independence from South Africa 23 years ago, does not recognize same-sex marriage although it takes place publicly.
Gay and lesbian marriages, while not legally endorsed, are widely covered by the media, no arrests take place and weddings by well-off gay people are sometimes held at luxury hotels in the capital city.
Hamutenya, who is a Catholic, told GSN he cannot marry his boyfriend in South Africa, the only African country that legalizes same-sex marriage as he is a Namibian citizen who wants to have the wedding on home soil.
On allegations RDP was a gay party, the young politician said the ruling Swapo party also has a lot of closeted homosexuals, ranking from cabinet ministers and directors of state owned companies to top officials in the army and police.
‘RDP is not a gay party, we just accommodates everyone unlike Swapo,’ he said.
Some of the ruling parties’ top officials including ministers have call for the extermination homosexuals a few years ago.
Early this year, some top lawyers and a police chief threatened to sue Hamutenya after he told a local tabloid newspaper he had a list of high-ranking Namibians who are involved in gay relationships.
The situation forced the outspoken gay activist to seek protection at the United Nation’s offices. But now he lives openly, even though a N$50,000 ($5,000 €3,700) bounty was offered on his head.
In the tabloid newspaper article no names were published as the amount of votes before the list was released was not reached by the readers. But many lists on social network sites were released which the former Mr Gay Namibia distances himself from.
‘I am waiting for cases to be opened against me, why are they quiet now?’ he asked. ‘As an elephant will trample on the grass, I will defend myself from any threats because of the gay list.’
The gay list became one of the most talked about issues in Namibia and women wanted to find out whether their husbands were on the list from the newspaper which run the story.
Hamutenya was under fire from gay rights groups as they claimed the gay list endangered the life of the unrecognized community.
In December 2011, a few months after his crowning as Mr Gay Namibia, Hamutenya was injured in a homophobic attack and police patrolled in front of his house for his safety.
The homophobic attack was speculated to be carried out by radical Swapo supporters linked to ruling party’s youth wing whose idol is former president Sam Nujoma – an outspoken anti-gay campaigner who once wanted homosexuals to be deported.
In 2009 Hamutenya did not gain enough votes to be elected as the councilor for a sit on Namibia’s capital city Windhoek’s municipality.
But this time around the young gay activist believes he can became Namibia’s first openly gay parliamentarian despite the ‘gay list’ making him a controversial figure.
If elected he wants to fight for the eradication of poverty, tackle unemployment among the youth, improve health facilities, offer free tertiary education and win rights for all Namibians irrespective of their sexual orientation.
Although Namibia is a middle-income country, unemployment is high.
He also will campaign to abolish anti-gay sodomy laws introduced during South African rule, and wants condoms for prisoners and equal land distribution.
Denying prisoners condoms in the jail was infringing on their rights of health, a report released last week by an official ombudsman said.
For next month elections the gay activist will call upon his party members to vote for the incumbent president, Hidipo Hamutenya, his uncle, who was once a powerful figure in the ruling party before launching RDP.