Africa’s First Openly Gay Member of Parliament

A must read interview and a testament to progress

By Melanie Nathan, May 24, 2014.

South Africa has just gone through an election and there is some good news for the LGBT community.

Wednesday’s swearing in of the members of parliament, for South Africa’s fifth democratic Parliament,  was an especially historic occasion; it featured the induction of the first openly-gay black Member of Parliament on the continent, Zakhele Mbhele. This must read interview was exclusive to our friends at Mamba Online.

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 6.59.45 PMMbhele, represents the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance Party (DA). At only 29years of age he boasts a proud African heritage and hails as an LGBT activist. As a student, he headed up the University of Witwatersrand’s LGBT campus group and also served on the board of Joburg Pride for a number of years.

He then moved into politics, becoming the Media Liaison Officer for Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, before entering Parliament.

In an exclusive interview with Mambaonline, Mbhele revealed that becoming an MP had been a goal of his for about six years, “So realising it now is literally a dream come true.”

He admitted that the impact of his achievement as a gay man hasn’t been at the front of his mind. “I know what it means as a historical milestone but I’m not walking around thinking of myself as the first openly gay black MP in Africa or singularly defining myself by it.”  READ MORE HERE

South Africa boasts an all inclusive equality constitution, one of the most progressive in the world. However is still a country where being openly gay takes a lot of courage, because of rampant homophobia.

Mamba asked  if he believes that his sexual orientation will bring something unique to his role as an MP, he replied: “I think being gay allows me to bring a unique perspective or lens to some issues that may come up in Parliament. As a gay person, I always have a subtle awareness of not being in the mainstream and the sense of marginalisation that can foster, so that makes me biased towards promoting and entrenching a human rights approach to policy matters.

“Many people are blind to structural issues relating to patriarchy, heteronormativity and economic disadvantage because of their social position and I would like to bring a voice that highlights those hidden dimensions.” READ MORE HERE


8 thoughts on “Africa’s First Openly Gay Member of Parliament

    1. Philbert. Your name in essence denotes the joining of two men nl. Philip and Albert. Be true to yourself before its too late. We will not point fingers. Promise.

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