Equality project welcomes President Zuma’s condemnation on the imprisonment of Malawi gay couple

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

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