LGBT groups say that Jacob Zuma’s apology is simply not enough to repair the damage caused by his homophobic remarks.
The Durban Lesbian and Gay Centre (DLGC) and Behind The Mask (BTM) have issued a statement accepting the Deputy President of the ANC’s apology – saying that, “Our cultural and traditional upbringing… has taught us that if a person has wronged you and they realise their mistake and therefore apologise there is no reason not to forgive.”
However the groups say that Zuma’s apology is insufficient, adding that, “…as Proudly South African organisations servicing lesbian and gay communities in South Africa, it would not be right to just accept Mr Zuma’s apology for his anti-gay remarks without pointing out our dissatisfaction with his justifications for them. How does one misinterpret a comment that “same-sex marriages are disgrace to the nation and to God”? How does this display his respect and commitment to uphold South Africa’s constitutional values?,” adding that, “We cannot use culture to oppress but must use it to protect and promote our freedom.”
DLGC and BTM have called on Zuma to publicly express his support for same-sex marriage, and for all South African leaders to build “a culture that promotes respect of diversity.”
GALZ, a Zimbabwe based LGBT group has also expressing its shock at Zuma’s comments made at the Heritage Day event last weekend. The organisation said that “such utterances may be run of the mill for the likes of national leaders, such as Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, but are startling when they emanate from a South African statesman.”
It went on to say that “South Africa must act as a role model for the promotion of human rights in Africa. Those of us living under difficult circumstances, as exist in Zimbabwe and elsewhere on this continent, have become increasingly alarmed by the wild behaviour and utterances of Zuma which continue to go unchecked.
“Whilst same-sex marriage may be furthest from the minds of most lesbian and gay people in the rest of Africa who still suffer the basic humiliations of oppressive laws, social stigma and propaganda spewed out by our national and religious leaders, we had hoped that we could at least look to the South African government to provide us with a strong arm of support in our basic struggle for social recognition.
“It seems we cannot rely on this, either on international platforms such as the UN (where South Africa sees fit to abstain from recognising sexual orientation as a ground for human rights protection), or at national level where leaders are given free reign to stigmatise marginalised communities such as gay and lesbian people,” said GALZ.