Justice Edwin Cameron with OIA Festival Director Nodi Murphy

Justice Edwin Cameron with OIA Festival Director Nodi Murphy

Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron says that the struggle of gay and lesbian people in South Africa is far from over.

The continent’s only openly gay and HIV positive judge opened the 20th edition of the Out in Africa (OIA) Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in Johannesburg on Wednesday night.

In his speech, Cameron told the packed cinema in Hyde Park: “We’ve come a long way but we haven’t come far enough yet.”

While acknowledging that gay and lesbian people in the country continue to face discrimination in daily life, he also argued against the notion that South Africa’s internationally lauded Constitution has no real value for the average LGBT person on the street.

“It’s not only a Constitution on paper,” said Cameron, citing examples of gay and lesbian identity expressed in small towns across the country.

“We have appropriated it; we have appropriated that sense of citizenship and appropriated that sense of equality. That sense of constitutional equality infuses the sense of self of LGBT people in South Africa,” he stated.

“Our struggle is an important one and it has reached hearts in cities, towns and townships across South Africa.”

Cameron’s question of who among the audience had felt fear for being gay or lesbian or had been discriminated against or had been a victim of violence because of his or her identity saw many raising their hands.

“Being here tonight is a political statement in its own right. There are those who say that Pride in Rosebank was not political enough but tell that to those young black men who went to their first Pride there,” he argued.

“Our struggle is still a long one but we’re ready for it,” the justice concluded to a round of enthusiastic applause from the audience.

The 20th OIA Gay & Lesbian Film Festival is now on in Johannesburg, at Nu Metro Hyde Park, and in Cape Town, at both Nu Metro and Cinema Nouveau V&A Waterfront, until the 27th of October. More details can be found here.

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