The Pietermaritzburg Gay & Lesbian Network (PGLN) is up in arms over a local arts organisation that does not allow gays and lesbians to participate in its activities.

PGLN says that the Sakhulwazi Arts Organization in Sobantu, Pietermaritzburg, Kwazulu Natal, headed by a man known as Bheki, openly refuses access to the gay and lesbian community.

The organisation provides activities such as poetry, singing, afro jazz and bead work to youth ranging from the ages of 15 to 25. It operates from the People’s Art Gallery in Khokoba Road, Sobantu.

These activities are advertised on two banners displayed in the area, on Main Road and at the Glass House Church. Accoring to PGLN, along with information about the organisation’s activities, the banners also boldly state, “NGEZITABANE” – meaning that gays are not welcome.

“The above statement on the banner is totally against the Bill of Rights and discriminates against the historically marginalized gay and lesbian community,” said Anthony Waldhausen, Director of PGLN.

He claims that PGLN contacted Bheki to discuss the matter and requested that he take down the banner. He apparently refused to do so or to even meet with the organisation.

PGLN has now filed a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission, and has requested that it investigates further and “takes the necessary steps to resolve this matter.”

Waldhausen has called on the Sakhulwazi Arts Organization to apologise to the gay and lesbian community and to immediately remove the banners.

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