Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has reportedly succumbed to pressure and withdrawn the 20 litter bins donated by a gays and lesbians’ group two weeks ago following complaints from residents and civic organisations who described the gift as culturally improper.
The controversial metal bins, all pink in colour with the inscription “Sexual Rights Centre”, were received by Bulawayo mayor Thaba Moyo at a brief function held at the Large City Hall.
Bulawayo United Residents’ Association secretary-general Samuel Moyo immediately condemned the MDC-T-run council for accepting the donation, saying council should have consulted residents first.
“The issue of gays and lesbians is a very controversial national problem and council was, therefore, supposed to consult the people as accepting the donation could be misconstrued to mean the local authority subscribes to gay rights,” said Moyo.
Sexual Rights Centre (SRC) board member Ricky Nathanson told NewsDay that the bins were placed at various points in the city centre on the day council received them from her organisation but were “removed the following day and have not been seen since”.
The mayor yesterday professed ignorance over the matter, but added council had the prerogative to place the bins at selected points.
“The department of housing is supposed to place these bins at strategic points where high levels of littering occur around the city,” he said. “I am still wondering why they have not yet done this.”
Moyo then declined to comment when questioned about the alleged removal of these bins by BCC, but referred NewsDay to the director of housing services, Isaiah Magagula. When asked about the matter, Magagula said he did “not have the authority to speak about the use of the donated bins”.
Nathanson said although they were disappointed by the development, the decision on whether the bins would be used or not lay with council.
“Council has the final decision on how these bins would be used, we just simply donated them,” she said. “I saw them being placed at the marketplace by City Hall soon after the donation.”
The donation by SRC raised a storm with some people accusing the local authority of going overboard by accepting the bins. However, Moyo defended the stance, arguing that every resident had the right to donate to council, including homosexuals.
“We are a city of various citizens, we will not consider a person’s religion, sexual orientation, race, gender, class or whatever,” he said.
“Gays have the right to donate to council and we have the right to receive from them.
“The reception of a donation from gay people does not mean that this is a sign that we support the idea of homosexuality, but it shows that we do not discriminate against them based on their sexuality.”