Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) organisations have issued a manifesto addressed to the ANC demanding a commitment to equality at the ruling party’s National Conference, where the country’s new leaders will be chosen.
The document was drawn up by members of the Joint Working Group at a meeting on December 5 at Constitution Hill and calls on the ANC’s leadership to live up to its responsibility to uphold the Constitution’s promise of “freedom, justice and equality for all.”
“The meeting was called by the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project to look at what kind of leadership we want. As a sector we haven’t said what we need from our leaders. And we haven’t been asked for our opinion,” explains Vanessa Ludwig, Director of Cape Town’s Triangle Project.
The Manifesto states that, “In our collective and plural reflection, we concluded that in our daily lives, the promise of the Constitution is not a reality and that if this remains unchallenged, then that its aspirations will remain a pipe dream.”
“Therefore, we resolved to claim our rights as full and equal citizens of a democratic South Africa by submitting this open manifesto of LGBTI demands…”
Ludwig adds that, “There’s a lot of gay bashing and murders and nothing has been said about it by the country’s leadership. This gives people license to be homophobic. The policy documents to be discussed at the conference say nothing about LGBT people.”
The manifesto goes on to make a number of demands from the ANC, including that it:
Fully and publicly affirm the rights of LGBTI people as full and equal citizens;
Make the recognition of the full rights of LGBTI people as full and equal citizens a living reality;
Fully and publicly affirm LGBTI issues as part of gender issues instead of the current silence in gender debates on LGBTI issues as well as address the hetero-sexist bias against LGBTI issues;
Commit to defend and protect human rights defenders in the country;
Address the exclusion of the reality, concerns, interests and needs of LGBTI people in the programmes and policies on HIV/AIDS;
Address the exclusion of the reality, concerns, interests and needs of LGBTI people in the delivery of all services and opportunities in our society specifically calling for:
i) appropriate access to medical rights for the distinct needs of LGBTI people;
Take effective and consistent action to end hate crimes against LGBTI people, in particular black lesbians and to commit to the education, conscientisation and mobilisation of all of society against hate crimes;
Take effective and consistent action to eliminate hate speech against LBGTI people;
Issue a public declaration from the Conference floor against hate crimes and speech against LGBTI people;
Take decisive disciplinary action and other sanctions against homophobes and others who violate the Constitution who are ANC members and leaders;
Create a climate of openness and non-discrimination within the ANC in order to make it possible for LGBTI members to come out and claim their space;
Create an open forum/caucus of LGBTI members within the ANC; and
Establish a special commission to investigate how to implement these demands.
ii) commit state resources to LGBTI needs;
iii) make access to land to all unmarried women, lesbian and gay people, in communal lands;
iv) include the rights and needs of LGBTI children in the Children’s Act;
v) integrate sexual orientation education in gender and sexuality education in all schools;
The document concludes with a commitment “to continue to struggle for a democracy that brings about full social liberation, justice, equality, and a South Africa free from all forms of social oppression, discrimination and exclusion.”
“We will take these demands and our commitments to every branch of the ANC and all political parties,” add the signatories.
The ANC’s 52nd National Conference, taking place from 16 to 20 December, will see the organisation elect new party heads, and in turn, the new President of South Africa.