DA Party Manny de Freitas calls protests Gay Pride Parade and Helen Zille remains silent
by Melanie Nathan, May 22, 2012.
Pursuant to nationwide protests in South Africa this weekend, the opposing Democratic Alliance (DA) party has failed to issue any official press statement in support of the South African LGBTI community which held events to protest the review of the SA Constitution by Traditional Leaders that brings into question the constitutional protections relating to sexual orientation and gender identity.
The only remarks on the record are those of DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, Manny de Freitas who has reportedly said in a letter to the Press:
“Just like apartheid – you were either for or against – you either believed in LGTBI rights or not. That fight is now over. Pride parades are no longer opportunities for protest and the demanding equal rights for all.“
Here is my response in an open letter to Mr. de Fretias, who I happen to share a Birthday with:
Dear Hon. Minister de Freitas,
Re: Your Remarks (ABOVE)
South Africa is a democracy and your mocking of the LGBTI democratic expression, through protest marches, while expressing legitimate concern for LGBTI rights, however trite you may think it to be, is disconcerting.
Your cryptic comments are not only a slap in the face to the SA LGBTI community, but also fail your entire DA Party as well as your constituents. Its suggests that you do not understand nor respect the Constitution and what it represents. Worse yet your dilatory response denotes that you think it is acceptable for officials charged with an oath to uphold the Constitution, may instead attack it, with impunity.
The SA LGBTI community marched this past weekend and delivered 20,000 signatures to parliament because they believe their rights are under attack. They protested because they believe that Chief Holomisa, given his various positions, including head the CRC, has a conflict of interests, after noting his homophobic remarks.
Instead of conveying the truth and understanding, you have shirked your duty and failed to show the courage of a true representative. Your comments do nothing more than attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the larger South African community, when you could have used this as an opportunity to focus on and correct the rampant homophobia experienced by LGBTI people in South Africa. You also failed to seize the opportunity to educate all South Africans about the magnificence of the all inclusive South African Constitution with the lesson that entrenched rights should never ever come up for review. You also stupidly threw away an “opposing political moment” when you could have shed some light on the duplicity of the ANC.
There should be no legitimate procedure available, under any circumstances, for Members of Parliament, Committees, Traditional Leaders, etc. to ever review rights of any of South Africa’s groups, if they are indeed, as you intimate, fully entrenched the Constitution.
Until such process is eradicated as an option, the well being of all minorities remain, in essence, unprotected and anyone who cannot see that is not deserving of a seat in Parliament. Why should women have to endure the recent discussions by Traditionalists who wanted to remove some basic protections against draconian tradition that hurt women and children? Why should gays have to feel the need to take to the streets because of Government sanctioned homophobia through a legitimated forum that has allowed Holomisa to make his unsavory remarks?
Until the process of reviewing fully entrenched rights is eradicated as unconstitutional, any class of South Africans whose rights are reviewed, are in essence persecuted, for the duration of the review process.
Sir, I do not think you fully grasp how damaging and hurtful this is to the South African LGBTI community. Maybe the LGBTI community will become more important to you when you realize that they are no longer voting for you. Your dismissive stance and condescending comments are no better than those of Holomisa himself.
I suggest you issue a clarifying statement or at the very least other DA members distance themselves and the DA issue a formal statement on the subject so that the South African gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex community can establish the extent or lack thereof of DA support. They have a right to know.
In Pride with All South Africans,
Melanie Nathan B.A. LL.B
Always in love with the land of my birth, South Africa
P.S. Where is Helen Zille on all this?
Call to Action Note:- Inviting my friends in South Africa to sign on to this letter and to feel free to fax and/or email as many copies of it from SA to the offices of the DA, Zille and de Freitas. Its not possible for me to do that from here. If you do so, let me know via FB, Twitter #defreitas, or email@example.com
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Holomisa is saying that LGBTI people should not be protected by the Constitution because some people believe they are not entitled to those rights. He is forgetting that thinking is the very reason why their rights are so protected.
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