SA govt finally announces date of LGBTI Africa Regional Seminar

Deputy Minister John Jeffery (File photo)

Deputy Minister John Jeffery (File photo)

The South African government will host the long-awaited LGBTI Africa Regional Seminar from 3 to 5 March 2016, two years after first promising to do so.

This was announced by Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, John Jeffery at the launch of the I Serve Equally Campaign, at the Atteridgeville Community Hall in Pretoria on Monday, 9 November.

The historic summit is planned to be held at the Pan African Parliament in Midrand, “so as to elevate the profile of the event.”

According to a press release from the Government Communication and Information System, the objective of the seminar will be to “facilitate an open, constructive and informed dialogue on the issue of discrimination and acts of violence against individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and generate greater understanding on the root causes and manifestation of these challenges.”

The government has been criticised for thus far not following through on its March 2014 commitment to host the regional summit, as part of a United Nations Human Rights Council process initiated by countries, including South Africa, in 2011.

Speaking at the launch, Jeffery urged all South Africans to respect and protect the human rights of LGBTI people and accept them as part of society.

He acknowledged that while South Africa is known globally for its progressive laws, more needs to be done to build safer communities and a society in which LGBTI persons are accepted and respected in the country.

“The harassment and victimisation of LGBTI persons will only stop if we keep sending a message of respect and acceptance of LGBTI persons. Gay rights are human rights,” Jeffery said.

“The most important message we need to send is one of our common humanity. Regardless of the colour of our skin, our gender or our sexual orientation, we all want the same things – respect, care, compassion and acceptance. We are all human beings”, he said.

The I Serve Equally Campaign is an initiative of the NGO Access Chapter 2 and is supported by both the South African Police Service and the Justice and Constitutional Development Ministry.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the social challenges faced by LGBTI persons. It was also launched in memory of the many hate crime victims in the LGBTI community and specifically remembers Lesego “Small” Manganye who tragically committed suicide earlier this year after she was subjected to two incidents of rape.

At the launch, Jeffery interacted with Manganye’s family and urged the community, civil society and public servants to work together to root out discrimination and violence directed at LGBTI persons.

“To Mme Manganye, we feel your pain at the loss of your daughter. No parent should ever have to feel the loss of a child. No person, in a country such as ours, where we are supposed to embrace our freedoms, should ever have to feel such despair as Lesego had”, he said.

In 2014, Jeffery’s department launched the LGBTI Programme which aims to promote partnership amongst government, civil society, business and the media in the fight against gender and sexual orientation-based violence and to encourage communities to report such crimes.

This followed the work of the National Task Team (NTT) which was set up in 2011 to develop a National Intervention Strategy that will be used as a guide to clamp down on violence against LGBTI persons.

Subsequent to this, Provincial Task Teams (PTTs) were established in all the provinces and they will be allocated a budget to implement the National Intervention Strategy activities, such as community dialogues and awareness initiatives.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Latest Comments
  1. Puleng
    Reply -
  2. Joshua Gindu
    Reply -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend