Elections 2019 | What the top political parties promise on LGBTIQ rights

With national elections taking place on 8 May this year, few of us can claim that we know the complete policies of the leading political parties, especially when it comes to what they’re promising the LGBTIQ+ community.

To help you be better informed and cast your ‘pink vote’ wisely, here’s what the election manifestos of five of the top political parties in South Africa say about LGBTIQ+ equality.

1. The African National Congress

The leader of the governing party, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has long been hailed as a valuable ally to the country’s LGBTIQ+ community. When Ramaphosa took the reigns from his predecessor Jacob Zuma last year, LGBTIQ rights groups celebrated.

In its 2019 election manifesto, the ANC reiterated that it has “a proud history of championing the cause for gender equality, the rights of people with disability and the LGBTIQ community”.

Historically, members of the party championed the sexual orientation equality clause in the Constitution and the ANC oversaw major changes to the law to ensure our rights are protected. It has, however, often been criticised for failing to implement them in government, especially in the justice system, in government departments and services and in its international policies. Compared to the opposition, few ANC officials or MPS are openly LGBTIQ.

In the manifesto, the party promises to:

– Introduce laws to combat hate crimes against people based on their race, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation or albinism, and to

– Finalise the proposed legislation before parliament aimed at preventing and combating hate crimes and prosecution of persons who commit those offences. The legislation will deal with hate crimes against persons based on their race, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation or albinism.

2. The Democratic Alliance

The official opposition’s Constitution sets out the DA’s values, and summarises these in four words: freedom, fairness, opportunity and diversity. In terms of its standpoint regarding LGBTIQ rights, party members are held to strict standards of conduct, and can be found guilty of misconduct if it becomes apparent that they have discriminated against someone, based on their sexual orientation.

In 2014, the DA elected the first openly gay black member of parliament, Zakhele Mbhele, and a good number of MPs, representatives and activists in the DA are also openly LGBTIQ.

In their Manifesto for Change, the DA has the following to say about LGBTIQ rights.

“Ultimately, it is our foundational belief that no South African – regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation or any other marker – should have their life chances determined by the circumstances of their birth.”

The party outlines its plans to protect the community in its manifesto:

“Combat discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community and promote the community’s rights by:

• Creating safe and non-discriminative environments and ensuring government makes opportunities for dialogues on identities and sexuality.
• Providing LGBTIQ+ sensitisation training in government services, schools and communities.
• Enforce a more strident stance on corrective rape and LGBTIQ+ related hate crimes by viewing these as aggravating circumstances when considering sentencing.
• Promoting the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people in Africa and around the world.
• Implementing specific education programmes to tackle bullying and harassment in schools as LGBTIQ+ youth are not adequately protected by anti-bullying initiatives.
• Ending the discriminatory treatment of LGBTIQ+ families in adoptions and protect LGBTIQ+ elders against discrimination.”

3. The Economic Freedom Fighters

In the past, the EFF has come out strongly against discriminatory legislation, both locally and elsewhere. In 2013, the party spoke out against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill adopted in Uganda, and the EFF also rallies against gender-based violence as it pertains to corrective rape, saying in 2015:

“Black people in this country are oppressed on many levels: they are landless, poor, unemployed and are constantly discriminated against based on their sexual orientation and identity. At the centre of this sexual violence is the plight of lesbian women who continue to be raped to ‘correct’ their sexuality.”

The EFF’s official 2019 election manifesto makes its position on LGBTIQ rights clear.

1. The EFF government will aggressively engage in public awareness and communication strategies and training interventions all aimed at or directed towards positively changing social norms which declare LGBTQI sexual preferences as abnormal.
2. The EFF government will amend the Criminal Law Amendment Act and existing legislation to include harsher minimum sentences for ‘corrective’ rape specifically, or crimes committed with hatred as motivation in general.
3. The EFF government will also amend the Sex Description
4. Act and related legislation to ensure the Home Affairs Department expedites ID alteration applications for transgender applicants.
5. The EFF government will invest in a public health care system that ensures easy access to gender-affirming treatment.
6. The EFF government will decisively enforce the Equality Act and related legislation to end unfair discrimination by government and private organisations in relation to the employment of women and the LGBTQI community.
7. The EFF government will amend the Facilities Regulations Act and related regulations to enable the implementation of gender-neutral toilet facilities in
schools, public facilities and workplaces to benefit transgender populations and people outside of the gender binary.
8. The EFF government will amend the Child Care Act and related legislation to impose penalties for unfair discrimination against LGBTQI individuals in relation to adoption processes.

4. The Inkatha Freedom Party

The IFP, led by veteran politician Mangosuthu Buthelezi, was one of the political parties that opposed the Civil Unions Bill when it was put before parliament in 2006. Then-party spokesperson Inka Mars said of the bill, “The IFP has always advocated strong family principles and we are ultimately guided by strong moral values. We feel that there were several other options in relation to this issue that Parliament did not explore properly.”

“Therefore, we reject any notion of same-sex unions or marriages and we oppose this Bill.”

12 years after same-sex marriage became legal, another bill was brought before parliament last year, repealing Section 6 of the Civil Union Act, and preventing civil servants from refusing to officiate over same-sex marriages on the grounds of conscience, religion or belief.

Although the bill was passed, the new legislation will take two years to come into effect, and in a turn from the party’s former position about marriage equality, the IFP, together with the DA, opposed the time it would take for the bill to become law.

The IFP does not take a clear stance against LGBTIQ discrimination in its 2019 election manifesto, although it does undertake to take action against gender-based violence and discrimination.

5. The Congress of the People

Although it isn’t one of the biggest political parties in South Africa, COPE deserves a mention.
Before he became the leader of the Congress of the People, Mosiuoa Lekota served as Minister of Defence, and just before the historic 2006 vote in parliament which would make same-sex marriage legal, Lekota made a heartfelt plea to MPs to support the rights of same-sex couples, saying:

“We are bound to fulfill the promises of democracy which we made to the people of our country. Are we going to suppress this so-called minority, or are we going to let these people enjoy the privilege of choosing who will be their life partners?

Lekota made the principles of equality part and parcel of COPE when he founded the party, and last year it was COPE MP, Deidre Carter, who lodged the Civil Union Amendment Bill that ultimately led to the repeal of Section 6 of the Civil Union Act.

In its election manifesto, COPE undertakes to see to the safety of youth, women and vulnerable groups, stating,

A COPE government will ensure that:

– The LGBTIQ community is supported to realise their constitutional rights.

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