UPDATED: PROTESTS TO PROTECT THE CONSTITUTION

Protests against efforts to remove sexual orientation protection from the Constitution are being held around the country this weekend.

Events will take place in Johannesburg and Cape Town on May 19 and Durban and Port Elizabeth on May 20.

The protests are in reaction to the recent proposal by The House of Traditional Leaders to remove the term “sexual orientation” from section 9 (3) of the Constitution, which prohibits unfair discrimination.

While the ANC and the DA have said that they do not back the proposal there is serious concern that it went as far as being taken forward by the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) of the National Assembly.

“The point of the protest is not in fear of the proposal succeeding. The protest is rather out of anger that the CRC has even accepted such a proposal,” one of the organisers, Eugene Brockman from Gay Flag of SA, told Mambaonline.

“Reviewing gay rights is on par with revisiting the concept of apartheid, deliberating whether women should have the right to vote and whether children’s rights are essential,” he said.

“The message the CRC has sent the South African LGBTI community is that we are not deserving of our rights, that we are second rate citizens who are at the mercy of their good graces.”

Brockman added that protest organisers are canvassing broadly for support and already have buy-in from several key LGBTI civil society groups.

According to the organisers, official permissions are all in place for the Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth events, with imminent approval expected for Durban.

The Johannesburg protest will begin at 10 a.m. at the Wits University parking lot, close to Jorissen street, and then to proceed to the Constitutional Court where a memorandum is to be handed to a representative of the court. Organisations such as OUT from Pretoria will take part.

Cape Town protesters will meet at the SABC offices in Sea Point from 11.30 a.m. and will then have shuttle taxis take them to Parliament. Cape Town Leathermen, S.W.E.A.T., Gender Dynamics, Gay Flag SA, GlosCPUT, RainbowUCT and Triangle Project have said that they will attend.

On Sunday 20 May, the KwaZulu-Natal LGBT community is planning to protest from 9 a.m. at the City Hall in Durban. This protest will take place at the venue and will not include a march.

In Port Elizabeth, protestors – including representatives of ECGLA, Tru Colors and SA GLAAD – will meet outside the City Hall at 1 p.m. on Sunday 20 May and plan to hand a petition to the mayor or his representative.

“The proposal to the CRC has exposed the true bias and homophobia prevalent both within their own and the traditional leader’s inner camps and that they are willing to use their powers to serve their prejudices,” said Brockman.

On a lighter note, he encouraged protesters to make use of “exhibitionist activism” by using flamboyant dress and costume as a means of protest. “We predict a lot of tribal and Zulu outfits,” he commented.

MAY 19/20 PROTEST DETAILS

Johannesburg

Date: Sat 19 May

Time: 9/10 a.m. till 12 p.m.

Location: Wits parking (near Jorissen street) to Constitution Hill (Kotze Street).

Other: Drinks afterwards at Ratz bar & Melon restaurant in Melville.

Contact: Genevieve L̩ Coq Рgenevievelecoq1@gmail.com

• Facebook event page

Cape Town

Date: Sat 19 May

Time: 12 p.m. till 2 p.m.

Location: SABC offices Sea Point. Shuttle taxis to Parliament.

Other: Followed by drinks at Cafe Manhattan.

Contact: Eugene Brockman – huge@p2-ink.com

• Facebook event page

Durban

Date: Sun 20 May

Time: 9 a.m. till 1 p.m.

Location: Durban City Hall (protest will take place here – no march)

Contact: Ezra Steenkamp – durban@iamgay.co.za

• Facebook event page

Port Elizabeth

Date: Sun 20 May

Time: 1 p.m. till 2.30 p.m.

Location: City Hall in Market Square

Contact: David Hessey – hesseydavid@gmail.com

• Facebook event page

Sign the petition opposing any changes to the South African Constitution here.

(This article was first written on 11 May 2012)

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