A gay uMhlathuze Municipality councillor alleges that his attempt to file a motion to get the city to commemorate Pride Month is being blocked.
Located about 180 kilometres north-east of Durban, the KwaZulu-Natal municipality encompasses towns such as Richards Bay and Empangeni.
On the 5th of June, DA Councillor SipheSihle Magubane submitted a motion application to the Municipal Manager requesting that the Council acknowledge that “June is Pride month; a time dedicated to honouring and promoting LGBTQ rights and achievements in the community and impact LGBTQ people have had in this City, country and around the world.”
He also requested that the ANC-dominated Council note that “the LGBTQ community in the City of uMhlathuze still faces challenges like, hate crime, work and institutional discrimination and marginalisation in society.”
The motion, if approved, would further see the Council resolve the following:
1. To condemn the hate crime and killings happening against members of the LGBTQ community
2. Commit to initiate programmes and projects that seek to redress the rising marginalisation of the community in the city.
3. Inclusion of the LGBTQ community in Council’s special programmes unit
4. To look into the introduction of gender neutral restrooms around the city where possible
5. Finally to assisting the community in achieving a uMhlathuze Gay Pride before the end of Councils term
Magubane explained to Mambaonline that the Council’s special programmes unit currently includes programmes related to women, children and traditional leaders. He believes that LGBTQ people should also be included in these programmes.
Magubane claims he initially received no response to his submission. Only when he began to cause a fuss on social media did the Deputy Municipal Manager of Corporate Services respond.
He was shocked to be told that the department had not received the e-mail at all. Magubane insists, however, that he has confirmation that the email was in fact read. He was then told that the request was in the wrong format due to a minor issue with the address on the form.
Magubane believes that the Council is using bureaucracy to block his motion. “If they don’t want something to go through the Council they will find anything in the bureaucratic process to make sure it doesn’t go through,” he said.
He has now resubmitted the motion request to the Deputy Municipal Manager and hopes that it will be accepted and will soon be put to a vote by the Council .
Councillor SipheSihle Magubane
“It is high time that Council started taking the issue of the LGBTQ community seriously. Having the community excluded from the special programmes unit means that they are not prepared to work with the community.”
Magubane said that even if the motion is ultimately rejected, it is important that it be voted on and be put on record. “People will know that there was a motion in 2017 that wanted LGBTQ inclusion.”
He added: “Everything happens in Durban; the media is in Durban, the news about LGBTQ issues is in Durban. So I want people to know that there are LGBTQ people in Empangeni and Richards Bay who are struggling with the same issues as people in the major cities.”
Mambaonline has emailed the Deputy Municipal Manager of Corporate Services for comment.