The City of Ekurhuleni is moving with the times, with its Council voting to amend the dress code to be inclusive of the gender non-binary community.
On Thursday, the city unanimously adopted an amendment to the Council Dress Code Policy, which had previously been formulated along heteronormative and exclusionary lines.
This follows the tabling of the motion by Councillor Lucky Dinake, a member of the DA Rainbow Network in Gauteng.
According to Dinake, the old dress code restricted gender non-conforming individuals and LGBTIQ+ individuals “from fully participating in the democratic process.”
It gave the Speaker of the Council the right to expel any individuals who did not conform to a “Male” and “Female” gender-binary dress code, or whose gender expression did not conform to a binary template as set out in the policy.
The policy affects Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM) “councillors and all persons when engaged in council and committee business.”
The amendment notes that “there are residents in the City of Ekurhuleni, staff of the City and Councillors who may be non-binary (do not identify as either male or female, or have fluid gender identities); transgender (do not identify with the gender assigned to them at birth) and intersex (born with ‘ambiguous’ physical sexual markers); who form part of the LGBTIQ+ community, but more importantly, are a part of our society as a whole.”
It amends Section 4.1 (a) and 4.1 (b) of the EMM Dress Code Policy “to remove gender-based delimitations of acceptable attire, in favour of broader, inclusive categories including ‘Business Formal’ and ‘Cultural, religious and/or traditional attire’, as these may apply; to accommodate individuals who self-identify as non-binary and/or gender non-conforming in their various forms as a reflection of the true diversity that characterises the people of our City.”
Dinake said that “this is a small step towards embracing the most marginalised and vulnerable members of the LGBTIQ+ community who struggle in the face of discrimination, punitive rape, bullying and brutal violence, and are often forced to the margins of society, where they struggle to see themselves in those who lead and represent them, and also do not see a place for themselves in the halls of power.”
Located to the east of Johannesburg, the Ekurhuleni municipality is best known for the OR Tambo International Airport and is home to around 3.17 million people.