27 May 2010
The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project welcomes the breaking of silence on homophobia
by our government, through President Jacob Zuma´s statement in Parliament today,
responding to the opposition party´s member´s question. The media reports that
President Zuma stated that our government has "condemned the action taken to arrest
people in terms of our constitution" and that government has not "kept quiet, so we are
with you on this issue as representing the country and the continent. We are working
hard to change attitudes and we will continue to do so." Further reports state that the
President said there is a "need to persuade, we need to make people understand, we
need to move with them. We have never adopted a confrontational stance on matters,"
Activists from a broad base of social movements and NGOs have been calling for years
for our government to stand up against homophobia, both within South Africa and on
the continent. His answer comes at a time when most African countries appear to be
hunting down people in same sex relations, those openly claiming their non‐heresexual
orientation identity and organisations working to defend their rights. Corrective rape
and hate crimes in South Africa continue, but just like the violence all women suffer, we
fear its normalisation.
Therefore, we encourage our Government to speak out more unambiguously against
homophobia and take robust measures in challenging its counterparts. Especially
because our Constitution requires it to do so, but also in recognition of the human rights
violations that occur against lesbians, gays, transgender, bisexual and intersex people
(LGBTIs) in Africa and the world over.
We call for consistency given empty rhetoric of the past on a number of fronts, both
from the President and ruling party/government. We continue to call on the President
and the Department of International Relations to recall self‐confessed homophobe, Mr
Jon Qwelane, as Ambassador of South Africa to Uganda.
The Equality Project will not rest until the promises laid down in our Constitution
become a reality.
Lesbian and Gay Equality Project
Tel.: +27 11 487 3810/1
Fax: +27 11 487 2332 or +27 86 652 9523