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World News
2003-02-01

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BRITAIN SENDS PIANIST BACK TO ZIMBABWE

One of Britain's most promising pianists, Michael Brownlee Walker, 25, is being sent back to Zimbabwe after his application for asylum was rejected by the Home Office, The Observer reported Jan. 5.

Brownlee Walker, who is gay and the great-grandson of one of Zimbabwe's earliest white settlers, fears he will be harassed and/or detained because of his name and because he has attended protests in Britain organized by the Zimbabwean opposition group Movement for Democratic Change.

His family's property—along with that of other Zimbabwean whites—recently was confiscated and his parents and brother fled the country.

'I have no family there now,' he told The Observer. 'They were all advised to evacuate because it was so dangerous. They had started to kill farmers including people we knew.'

Brownlee Walker also fears he will be victimized because of his sexuality. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has said of gays: 'What an abomination, a rottenness of culture, real decadence of culture. [Homosexuals are] repugnant to my human conscience ... immoral and repulsive. ... Animals in the jungle are better than these people because at least they know that this is a man or a woman. ... I don't believe they have any rights at all.'

Brownlee Walker says organized anti-gay violence is common in Zimbabwe, although news of such incidents rarely makes it into the international media.

'Victimization of the gay community is universal and constant in Zimbabwe,' affirmed leading British gay activist Peter Tatchell, who has long campaigned against Mugabe. 'No one is safe.'

SWAZILAND HIT HARD BY HIV

Almost four of every 10 adults in the small African nation of Swaziland are HIV-positive, Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini said Jan. 2.

The rate is similar to that of Botswana, which has been pegged as having the world's highest HIV rate—38.8 percent of adults.

Swaziland, population about one million, is a mountain kingdom situated between South Africa and Mozambique.

— World news by Rex Wockner


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