A gay photographer has considered filing a lawsuit against a weekly newspaper for allegedly firing him on grounds of his sexual orientation.
Twenty-seven year old Festus Morgan Bock told New Era yesterday that the reasons why the Windhoek Observer editor fired him were not valid.
“When I asked him why he fired me he told me, ‘My friend you are a freelancer, I can fire you anytime.’ His reasons for dismissing me were not proper because they were more about my sexual orientation. I do my job to the best of my ability,” said Bock who joined the weekly in February this year.
Bock said he contacted the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) regarding the matter and should he succeed in his lawsuit he would demand a public apology.
The editor of the Windhoek Observer, Kuvee Kangueehi, when contacted for comment on the matter said, “I don’t know that he is gay.”
Kangueehi explained that the man in question “was never employed” by the Windhoek Observer.
“He was a freelancer,” said the editor, explaining that the newspaper found a “better deal” in sourcing photographs and therefore did not need Bock’s services anymore.
Commenting on the matter, the Director of Out-Right Namibia, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights organisation, said: “It’s a direct human rights violation” for any organisation to fire an employee based on sexual orientation.
Baumann stressed that the sexual orientation of people does not impact on their ability to perform work.
“This is something that government and stakeholders should take up to uphold everybody’s human rights,” said Baumann, who suggested that a national discourse on the matter take place. Furthermore, Baumann said many transgender people do not get employment because of their sexual orientation. Baumann added that many transgender people are breadwinners and not having a job means they cannot effectively take up the role of providing for the family.
“One’s sexual orientation does not affect one’s competency in delivering the work and duties that are expected from us,” said Baumann.
Gender activist Ngamane Karuaihe-Upi said: “In as much as government is reluctant” to address the issue of LGBT rights, it has an obligation to guarantee that the right to life of all citizens is protected.
“Sexual orientation has nothing to do with the capabilities and skills of a person. There are people in high positions who are gay and lesbians, and they perform well in their responsibilities despite being gay or lesbian. If someone is fired because of being gay that is blatant discrimination,” said Karuaihe-Upi.
Rosa Namises, the Director of Solidarity Namibia said the law does not say that gay people should not be employed, unless there is a clause in an organisation’s policies which stipulates the employment or non-employment of people based on their sexual orientation.
“We need to employ people for their abilities. It is discriminatory if a company fires people based on their gay status,” said Namises. “People should indicate in their ads (advertisements) that they do not want gay people if they don’t want them to apply,” said Baumann.
A comment from LAC proved futile by the time of going to print.