WESTERN CAPE ANC: CULTURE NO EXCUSE TO DISCRIMINATE
Fri, 31 August 2012The ANC in the Western Cape has come out strongly against the use of tradition and culture as a justification for homophobic discrimination and violence.
The ruling party affirmed its position on equal rights at a meeting and press conference with the Gay Flag of South Africa (GFSA) on Thursday at the Provincial Legislature
On Mandela Day on 18 July, a number of LGBT rights groups, including GFA, held protests in Johannesburg and Cape Town demanding that the ANC take action against homophobic violence and murder, which led to the talks.
At Thursday's press conference, the ANC strongly condemned homophobic hate crimes and murders.
It also addressed the issue of one of its MPs Phatekile Holomisa, also the head of Contralesa, supporting removing sexual orientation protection from the Constitution to ''protect'' traditional culture.
The party slammed any attempts at reviewing the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Bill of Rights as well as a recent tendency in conservative and traditional communities to use culture as a justification for homophobic discrimination and violence.
"Gone are the days when we used culture to discriminate against others. Culture evolves with society. Social stereotyping is against the ANC's norms," said Songezo Mjongile, ANC Western Cape secretary, at the meeting.
''It is my belief that gay rights are human rights and that no homophobic violence or prejudice should be tolerated. The ANC has always endeavoured to build an equal and progressive South Africa. The ANC''s values are guided by the South African constitution, where we develop a equal non-sexist, non-racial and non-homophobic nation,'' said Mjongile.
He went on to add: ''As the ANC, we rather observe the most progressive and advanced cultural norms, which speaks to the right of every South African to choose their lifestyle, life partner and sexual orientation. As such, each South African's choice of identity has to be respected.''
In an apparent attack on President Jacob Zuma's recent controversial comments that all women should get married and have children, Mjongile said: "I think the rights of women must be respected equally. Women have got the right to say whether they want to bear children, whether they want to be single or whether they want get married, in the same way that men have."
GFSA noted that as the majority ruling party the ANC is capable of sending a broad message to vast segments of society, including traditionalists, that LGBTI rights are human rights.
''As an activist for and member of the LGBTI community in South Africa it is truly encouraging to hear the ANC today condemn homophobic violence and murder in South Africa," said GFSA''s chair Eugene Brockman. "Though we are a politically neutral organisation, we are excited by the ANC sending a message of acceptance and respect for LGBTI South Africans to their vast constituencies."
At the meeting, the ANC and GFSA agreed to take the following actions:
'' Approach and lend support to re-activate the stagnant Department of Justice task team on homophobic violence.
'' Assist in expediting investigations and prosecutions of homophobic hate crimes.
'' To build capacity of police and the justice system to process these cases and to avoid secondary victimisation.
'' Continuously raise awareness for acceptance and respect of LGBTI rights and lives.
The two groups called on members of the LGBT community to report any homophobic discrimination, attack, rape or murder immediately to the nearest police station and magistrates court.
'' Picture by Henry Bantjez