A gay teacher at a top Zimbabwean boys’ school has resigned after death threats and pressure from parents. Neal Hovelmeier, deputy head for St John’s College’s sixth form, came out to his students last week.
He was encouraged to do so as a Zimbabwean newspaper was planning on outing Hovelmeier, the school’s chairman wrote in a letter. Some parents threatened legal action against him in a country where homosexual acts are illegal.
“I will not submit myself to a sham trial,” Hovelmeier wrote in his resignation letter.
The teacher, who has worked in the elite school for 15 years, apologised for the distress caused by revealing his sexuality, saying it has since led to “death threats as well as threats of physical danger to myself and my pets”.
“I have come to realise that my current position as deputy headmaster is now untenable,” he wrote in the resignation letter.
Hovelmeier came out to the student body on 21 September when the school, which is based in the capital Harare, released a statement by him.
He wrote that former students had confided to him that they had felt intimidated and ostracised at the school amidst a homophobic atmosphere. He said he could only deal with the issue if he was “open and transparent about it myself”.
The issue of gay rights has always been both controversial and emotive within Zimbabwe’s conservative society. (BBC)