We salute Keith Goddard by Peter Tatchell
Keith Goddard 1960 – 2009
Director of Gays And Lesbians of Zimbabwe
London – 11 October 2009
Members of the British LGBT human rights group OutRage! extend their condolences to our comrades in Gays And Lesbians of Zimbabwe and to the family and friends of Keith Goddard, following his illness and tragic death on 9 October 2009.
He was a true hero of the freedom struggle in Zimbabwe, and made a major contribution to GALZ’s campaigns and successes over a period of nearly two decades.
OutRage! is very proud and honoured to have worked with Keith and GALZ from the early 1990s onwards, supporting their many struggles against the homophobia and tyranny of the Mugabe / ZANU-PF regime.
We stood with Keith and his courageous GALZ comrades as they resisted state harassment, defended individual LGBT people, demanded their rightful place at successive Book Fairs and defied President Mugabe’s many public theats and attacks on LGBT Zimbabweans.
When OutRage! attempted its two citizen’s arrests of President Robert Mugabe, in London in 1999 and in Brussels in 2001, Keith offered his congratulations. He reported that these attempts had a huge positive effect inside Zimbabwe. They prompted, he said, the Zimbabwean media to interview GALZ many times over and to report LGBT human rights issues to an extent that had rarely, if ever, happened before. Keith was usually the GALZ person interviewed and he used these media opportunities very effectively to challenge homophobic ignorance and prejudice – and to eloquently set out the case for equality.
Politically astute and a highly effective campaign strategist, Keith built links with other human rights activists in Zimbabwe in a successful bid to put LGBT equality at the heart of the mainstream Zimbabwean human rights movment. He and his GALZ comrades have done magnificent work to build broad support for LGBT rights in a future post-ZANU-PF Zimbabwe, when Mugabe is history.
On a personal level, Keith was an immensely kind, generous, supportive, warm-hearted person. I remember some wonderful, enjoyable evenings with him during his periodic visits to London.
A non-sectarian bridge-builder, he despised personal attacks and infighting. He was supportive of myself and OutRage! at times when others were not . In 2007, a number of African LGBT activists were goaded by false allegations into a signing a letter denouncing us. Keith refused. He knew, from many years of working with OutRage!, that these allegations were untrue. We were very grateful for Keith’s honourable stand against political sectarianism.
Keith was also, like all GALZ activists, very brave: unafraid to take a public stand for LGBT human rights, despite police and government repression. He risked his liberty and life many times, speaking out against homophobia and transphobia, even though this marked him as a potential target for state and vigilante violence. The danger of kidnapping, arrest, imprisonment, torture and murder never deterred him.
Keith will be remembered as a pioneer and hero of the LGBT liberation struggle in Africa. We salute him.
Peter Tatchell, OutRage!, London, UK