eThekwini Municipal Council Speaker, Cllr Logie Naidoo
The eThekwini Municipal Council has apparently refused to express its support for Durban Gay Pride and has been accused of instead allowing a council member to display shockingly homophobic behaviour.
At a meeting at City Hall this morning (25 June), DA Councillor Martin Meyer attempted to ask the Council to congratulate Durban’s LGBTI community on this week’s pride celebrations, and to generally condemn homophobia.
According to Meyer, as soon as he began speaking, ANC councillors started heckling to try to silence him. When he asked for protection from Speaker Logie Naidoo, he instead refused to allow Meyer to continue.
Meyer claims that an ANC councillor then started making homophobic gestures at him, and saying “sorry Sissi.”
Meyer said that he has previously reported this particular councillor to Naidoo for the same gestures and for shouting homophobic abuse at him in the past. Naidoo refused to act on today’s complaint.
“When we are celebrating youth month, and going up to gay pride when people unite in the name of equal rights, this action by the ANC is shocking,” Meyer told Mambaonline.
“We live in a city where young gay men are regularly attacked, and where corrective rape of young lesbian women is still a challenge, and for the ANC to allow blatant homophobia like this from their councillors goes against the spirit and the letter of our Constitution,” he added.
Meyer said that he will again lay an official complaint with Naidoo, and urged him to act against the homophobic councillor. He also called on Mayor James Nxumalo “to publicly commit this council to fighting for the eradication of homophobia in our city.”
The week-long Durban Pride Festival is currently under way, with the march taking place this Saturday at Sharks Stadium.
Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Manager of the Durban Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre, which has organised Durban Pride since 2010, expressed her “grave concern and frustration about the persistent homophobia and disrespect of sexual and gender diversity within the eThekwini Municipal Council.”
She said in a statement: “Durban Pride as an event promotes Durban (eThekwini) as a safer city in Africa where homophobia is not tolerated. Knowledge that homophobia exists and is supported within the eThekwini Municipal Council is indeed shocking, frustrating and should not be accepted.”
Mkhize pointed out that the Council’s stance is in direct conflict with the South African government’s recently launched LGBTI Programme to stamp out homophobia and the principles and the spirit of the ANC and the South African Constitution.
She confirmed to Mambaonline that support from the municipality for the event “has not been what we want it to be,” but said that “we have been working with the city and thought we were on the right track to get its buy-in. This is just taking us back.”
Mambaonline has e-mailed Cllr Naidoo and Mayor Nxumalo asking for their comment on the matter.
The text that Councillor Meyer was not allowed to deliver is as follows:
Mr. Speaker. It is that time of the year again, when I rise to ask this house to join me in wishing a part of our community well. This coming weekend, the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and transsexual community of eThekwini meets again, and ward 27 is proud to host them once more, at the annual Gay pride event at Kings Park.
This event is of great importance, Mr. Speaker, as homophobia is still rife in our country, and no one seems immune to it, not even I, Mr. Speaker. So I am sure that this council will rise up to wish this community well with their events this week, and with the pride parade on Saturday, but more importantly, I am sure everyone in this house, from yourself, to ALL the members of Exco and of course our Mayor will commit to do everything in their power to fight homophobia and discrimination against homosexuals where ever it may occur, whether in our schools, our streets or even if it occurs in this council.
So let us wish them well, and let us wish them well when this community, of which I am proud to be a member, celebrate 20 years of Freedom!