South African National Protests by Gay Rights Activists Sheds Light on ANC Weakness

What happened to the Madibe and ANC assurance that all South Africans will be protected from persecution? Now SA Gays are under attack by members of the ANC.
By Melanie Nathan, May 20, 2012.

South Africans may have been surprised today as hundreds of people took to the streets of Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Durban, as the LGBTI community and allies launched protests against the decision of the Traditional leaders of South Africa, to seek a review of the Constitution to revoke the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex South Africans which are protected by the South African Constitution.

Under the leadership of President Nelson Mandela and the rise of the ANC (African National Congress) a post-apartheid South Africa took pride in its New Constitution, one of the few in the World to fully protect all people, unifying all minorities and protecting them against discrimination.

Although gays in South Africa have enjoyed their freedom and full equality, homophobia has still been rampant, evidenced by the endemic attacks on lesbians through what has become known as “corrective rape” or “curative rape,” and through homophobic comments made members of the ruling ANC party such as Chief  Patekile Holomisa (remarks noted below), the man now charged in the leadership role with the review of the sexual orientation and gender rights in the Constitution. The Traditional leader serves as Chairperson of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) and is an MP representing the ANC, the party of Nelson Mandela which is still the majority ruling Party in South Africa.

In response to this attack to revoke LGBTI rights, a powerful and unified coalition of South African LGBTI groups formed these past weeks specifically to counter the attack by the Traditional leaders. The Coalition has organized protest marches and events to “protect the South African Constitution”  and the rights and protections it provides for sexual orientation and gender identity.

In Cape Town Saturday, a peaceful, yet angry large crowd gathered and marched to Parliament, chanting slogans and carrying signs asserting their rights and the protection of the Constitution for all minority groups, noting that such should never be the subject of discussion or review.

The march ended at SABC, culminating with the delivery of a memorandum and two petitions with 17,000 signatures, collected in under two weeks, to the Secretary of the National Assembly, Mr. MK Mansura.

The Petitions urged ANC Member of Parliament, Chief Patikele Holomisa, chairperson of the CRC to cease and desist from threatening the removal of the rights of his fellow South Africans.

In Johannesburg, protestors heard from passionate activists and unfolded a rainbow flag on Constitutional Hill.

I was particularly touched to see the crowd that formed outside the Port Elizabeth City Hall, with banners and rainbow flags, reminding me of my own childhood in the City during the height of Apartheid, where as a privileged white kid I performed in a ballet at age 5, for a “whites only” audience.

At the helm of the organizing coalition of LGBTI activists and groups was the Gay Flag of South Africa (GFSA), under the leadership of Eugene Brockman, who commented about the success of the March and thanked all those groups which participated Nationwide.  “Sexual orientation and gender identity rights and protection against discrimination are firmly entrenched in the South African Constitution and should never be the subject of discussion or removal.”

Further protests took place in Durban.

To date the ANC has distanced itself from the homophobic remarks of Holomisa (see note below) , but have yet to come out in support of the democratic protests.

In 2011 I joined a group of activists and NGO’s including at a meeting at South Africa’s Parliament with the SA Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to advocate for change in the issue of corrective rape and the need for hate crimes legislation in South Africa. The meeting resulted in a partnership between the ANC government and the local NGO’s by way of a task force to further these goals. To date there has been no reports from the DOJ or any of the NGO’s on any progress of the Task force.

This reflects not only on the homophobia in South Africa, but perhaps also on the greater influence of Holomisa and traditional leadership on the political stage, playing out the realities of a progressive ANC being dragged into a Draconian past, by those who refuse to allow South Africa the full potential of its extraordinary role in this modern world.

How ironic that it would take the GAY (LGBTI) community, still impeded by daily homophobia,  to alert all South Africans to the great danger of messing with the Constitution, because be assured, that after one class of protected citizen is removed, there will always be another!

By Melanie Nathan
nathan@privatecourts.com
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NOTES Remarks of Holomisa – Chief Patekile Holomisa is  is an advocate  (lawyer) of the Supreme Court,  an  MP for the  ANC, a traditional leader, chairman of the joint Constitutional Review Committee and Chairman of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (CONTRALESA); Founding member of PISA – parliamentary Institute.

This is what he had said in the context of a review of LGBTI entrenched Constitutional rights:- “the ANC knows that the ‘great majority’ of South Africans do not want to promote or protect the rights of gays and lesbians.”   see  https://oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/outrageous-interview-with-south-africa-ancs-patekile-holomisa-indicates-homophobia/

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https://oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/protests-in-johannesburg-as-gays-unfold-rainbow-flag-on-consitutional-hill/

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CALLING HOLOMISA out at UN Plaza San Francisco of IDAHO https://oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/my-speech-in-san-francisco-for-international-day-against-homophobia/

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