The owner of La Gardi says he’s entitled to bar LGBTQ people from his Gqeberha store (Photo: OUT LGBT Well-being)
OUT LGBT Well-being and more than 35 other organisations have slammed an Eastern Cape shop owner who’s displayed a sign stating that LGBTQ individuals will not be served in his store.
MambaOnline reported on Monday that the sign was being displayed outside La Gardi, a packaging, spice, dairy, and baking shop in Gqeberha. The chalkboard sign states: “LGBTQ not welcome at La Gardi – Save our Children.”
The owner of La Gardi, Dawood Lagardien, confirmed to us that he had put up the sign and asserted that LGBTQ people are being “forced down our throat.” He added that “I will not allow LGBTQ individuals in my shop, and no one can stop me!”
Alarmingly, after speaking to Lagardien and reporting on his statements, MambaOnline received a series of threatening phone calls in which we (presumably LGBTQ individuals) were warned to “stay out of the Muslim community.”
MambaOnline can confirm that the sign was still being displayed outside the store at the time of writing.
On Wednesday, almost 40 LGBTIQ+ and allied groups joined OUT LGBT Well-being in condemning Lagardien and his illegal action in a statement.
The statement reads in part as follows:
Refusing to serve or provide services based on sexual orientation or gender is not only unconstitutional, violating the dignity of LGBTQ+ people, but is also illegal under the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act. So-called “right of admission” policies that are based on race, gender, sexual orientation and other protected characteristics are invalid.
“This attempt to impose a form of ‘apartheid’ on LGBTQ+ people is outrageous and must be immediately addressed. It goes beyond freedom of expression and constitutes outright discrimination,” says Sibonelo Ncanana, OUT’s Human Rights Coordinator in Gqeberha.
“It seems that some in our country have not learned from the lessons of our past when people were segregated and denied services based on who they are,” Ncanana adds.
OUT has observed a growing anti-LGBTQ+ backlash in South Africa, which has been further fuelled by certain religious and political groups spreading fear and misinformation, particularly during the commemoration of International Pride Month in June. Unfortunately, this hostile sentiment often translates into incidents of discrimination and violence.
OUT is further alarmed by reports that a journalist has received threatening and intimidating phone calls after reporting on the La Gardi matter.
We acknowledge that these developments occur within a deteriorating environment for LGBTQ+ individuals across the African continent. It is disheartening to witness several governments implementing or considering oppressive laws, while religious groups and churches actively campaign against the human rights of LGBTQ+ people.
OUT firmly believes that as South Africans, we cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to safeguarding our own liberties and rights. It is crucial that we, and our government, stand united against all forms of prejudice and discrimination, here and on the rest of the continent.
We urge the authorities, particularly Chapter Nine institutions such as the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), to take decisive action against the vitriol and bigotry targeting the LGBTQ+ community.
OUT has lodged a complaint with the SAHRC regarding the La Gardi policy and sign and calls for swift measures to be taken against the owner.
This statement is endorsed by the following organisations and individuals:
- Access Chapter 2
- Accountability International
- Action for Social Justice International
- Afro Games
- Cape Town Pride
- Common Diversity
- Desmond Tutu Health Foundation
- Embrace Diversity Movement
- Forum for the Empowerment of Women
- Foundation for Human Rights
- Frank Malaba – Artivist
- The Fruit Basket
- GALA Queer Archives
- Gender and Sexuality Alliance East London
- Gender DynamiX
- The Global Interfaith Network for People all Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions
- Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM)
- Intersex South Africa
- Khanyasi Ikamva Projects
- KZN LGBT Recreation
- Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre, KZN
- Lower South Coast LGBTI
- Pachedu LGBTIQ Collective
- Parents, Families and Friends of South African Queers (PFSAQ)
- Safeplace International
- Same Love Toti
- Shemah Koleinu
- Simon Nkoli Collective
- South African Higher Education Queer Alliance
- Thato One Big Family
- Tholwana e Molemo
- Triangle Project
- Uthingo Network
- Uthingo The Rainbow
- Vaal LGBTI