The Joint Working Group (JWG), a network of South African LGBT activist organisations, on Thursday called on all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people to take an active part in the process of electing a new President and Parliament during the 2009 General Election, which will be held on 22 April.

It said that it is through active participation in democracy that the LGBT community can best safeguard the hard won rights and protections enshrined in the constitution.

The JWG added that it is deeply concerned about the growth of ideologies that undermine constitutional protections, legislative orders and democratic principles; ideologies such as nationalism, tribalism, fundamentalism, and conservative forms of morality.

It noted that these ideologies provide a fertile base for identity based prejudice such as racism, xenophobia and homophobia.

“We are concerned and affected by violent language and abuse of the right to freedom of expression that we hear from prominent leaders in this country, a language that encourages crime and violence towards anyone on the basis of their identities or their ideologies. We call on all responsible leaders to retract and discipline members of their parties who incite violence and crime, including those that perpetuate heterosexist views, misogyny and homophobia,” said the group.

The members of the JWG have demanded a future government that:

  • Advances the rights, interests, needs and demands of LGBTI people in South Africa,
  • Fully and publicly affirms the rights of LGBTI people as full and equal citizens,
  • Takes the recognition of the full rights of LGBTI people as full and equal citizens a living reality,
  • Fully and publicly affirms LGBTI issues as part of gender issues and challenge the current silence in gender debates on LGBTI issues,
  • Addresses the exclusion of the reality, concerns, interests and needs of LGBTI people in the programmes and policies on HIV/AIDS,
  • Addresses the exclusion of the reality, concerns, interests and needs of LGBTI people in the delivery of all services and opportunities in our society especially appropriate access to medical rights for the distinct needs of LGBTI people,
  • Is willing to commit state resources to LGBTI needs, making access to land to all unmarried women, lesbian and gay people, in communal lands, integrating sexual orientation education in gender and sexuality education in all schools
  • Will take effective and consistent action to end hate crimes and hate speech against LGBTI people, in particular black lesbians and to commit to the education, conscientisation and mobilisation of all of society against hate crimes and hate speech.

The JWG committed itself to take these demands to all its constituencies and allies to include in the campaigns for the election of the country’s next President and Parliament: “We need to work with like-minded organisations and people during the period leading to the 2009 national elections to ensure that LGBTI issues are on the table and to challenge those who hope to lead us to engage with those issues.”

The organisation also announced that it will host an Election Forum on March 27, at 6pm at the old Women’s Goal at Constitution Hill, Joburg. All are welcome to attend. For more information contact Emily Craven on 011 403 5566 or at

“Listen to and challenge the people who come looking for your support and finally, whether you want to vote for a party or spoil your ballot in protest, make use of your rights as full and equal citizens of South Africa by coming out to vote!”

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