The country’s two biggest political parties commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) on Sunday, offering their support to the LGBTIQ+ community.
The May 17 event is observed annually around the globe to recognise the day the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1990.
IDAHOTB has become a major platform to highlight violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTIQ and other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender, identities, expressions and sex characteristics.
Awareness around the event is growing in South Africa every year, with NGOs, political parties and some corporates acknowledging its significance.
In a media statement, the governing ANC said it joined “the global community” to celebrate “diversity and to raise awareness of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people…”
National Spokesperson Pule Mabe expressed concern at reports by the UN Development Program “that some LGBTIQ+ people are experiencing heightened stigma as a result of the Covid-19 virus, as well as new obstacles when seeking healthcare.”
A social media campaign led by the ANC Women’s League LGBTIQ+ Desk and the Embrace Diversity Political Movement saw prominent ANC leaders such as Faith Mazibuko (Gauteng Community Safety MEC) and Jessie Duarte (Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC) speaking out for LGBTIQ equality.
In an IDAHOTB video message posted on Facebook, ANC Women’s League President, Bathabile Dlamini said that “we pledge our full support and solidarity to LGBTQ+ communities” as well as “those that have been killed and discriminated against by they own families, their own communities [and] various institutions that purport to be representative or guardians of spiritual, religious and cultural rights.”
Dlamini further paid tribute to Eudy Simelane, a football player on South Africa’s Banyana Banyana national women’s team, who was gang-raped and stabbed to death in KwaThema township outside Johannesburg in April 2008.
The LGBTIQ arm of the official opposition said on social media that the DA “stands by its LGBTQIA+ members and the community. We stand for your rights to freedom, fairness, opportunity and to express and live your diversity.”
Alan Winde, the DA’s Premier of the Western Cape, also marked IDAHOTB on Twitter. “During this challenging time, I want to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and to make clear that we are stronger when we are united in our diversity. Let us celebrate one another & unite against hate,” Winde tweeted.
Vodacom, which has become one of the most visible corporate supporters of LGBTIQ equality in South Africa, posted on Sunday: “You are a person, not a label. You don’t need to feel sorry or bad. You shouldn’t define yourself by their standards because you’re exactly who you’re meant to be.”
The mobile operator linked to an article on its website highlighting how its users could show their support for the LGBTIQ community on IDAHOTB.