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MBABANE – While the police service distanced itself from the LGBTI march, one of their own took a bold step by openly declaring her sexual orientation.

*Marylyn, a police officer based at a police post outside Mbabane, said she is happier coming out than living a double life.
Despite that she has come out, she requested that her identity be protected, not because she was afraid but because of her work, where it still has not been fully accepted.

Last week Saturday she publicly participated in the LGTBI parade that was staged in Mbabane.
Many other participants went there as supporters and not to mean that they were LGBTIs.

However, Marylyn granted an interview where she clarified on her sexuality saying it is something within her since birth.
“Growing up, I never liked anything feminine, female clothes put me off”.

Homosexuality is a crime in 37 of the 52 nations that make up the Commonwealth of Nations.
With Eswatini being a member of the Commonwealth, the public service departments are forced to fall in line as they serve as instruments of the governing body.

Government institutions are said to have a number of people who cannot come out of the closet concerning their sexual orientation due to fear of being discriminated against.

Marylyn said being part of the march comes in as highly significant as she was even featured on last week’s publication of the LGTBI parade where she gave her insight concerning the occasion.

Her confidence during the interview can be said to be that of one who can withstand stigmatisation as many public service employees are afraid to declare their standing in society when it comes such issues.

The officer, when asked what advice she had for public servants who are part of the LGBTI community but are afraid to come out, said they should continue to live their lives and not be ashamed of who they are as God can be the only judge.

“Some people who judge are hypocritical, because there are things that they do behind closed doors that we do not know.”
Asked if she despised those who are against LGBTI, Marylyn said she does not blame or hate them due to different values and socialisations that people have.

Chief Police Information and Communication Officer Superintendent Khulani Mamba said the police service was already on Marylyn’s case.
“I cannot say much about this because you called me at a time when we had already placed the matter at table. Deliberations are going on so I can only discuss it afterwards.”

She went on to state that they had seen her pictures and interview in last weekend’s publications and clarified that she was participating in her own accord.

He said the deliberations on this are meant to determine if as police officers, they could participate in this.
Mamba did, however, acknowledge that it was historic for the institution to have an officer coming out openly about such.
“The Pride march was also the first of its kind so we were really taken aback.”
Research conducted by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) stipulates that many LGBTI workers do not report negative comments or discomfort at work because they do not think anything will be done.
About 45 per cent of LGBTI workers say enforcement of their employer’s non-discrimination policy is dependent on their supervisor’s own feelings about LGBTI people and 13 per cent say they worry they will be fired from work for coming out as LGBTI.
Some 53 per cent of LGBTI workers report hearing jokes about lesbian or gay people in the workplace, according to the HRC study.
“Other closeted LGBTI workers report similar struggles, the study showed. Twenty-five per cent feel distracted from work, 17 per cent say they feel exhausted from hiding their sexual orientation, and 31 per cent feel depressed at work”.
Research entails that LGBTI employees avoid making personal and professional connections at work because they fear coming out. It further stated that workplace discrimination is especially prevalent for transgender employees.
It added that nearly every transgender person surveyed as part of a 2009 report from the National Centre for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said they experienced discrimination at work.
“Some 80 per cent of non-LGBTI people say LGBTI people should not have to hide who they are at work, but in practice, a number of double standards emerge”, the HRC report found.
Some 59 per cent of non-LGBTI workers say it’s unprofessional to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and 36 per cent say they feel uncomfortable talking about dating with an LGBTI colleague.”

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