As the world commemorates Pride Month in June, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex plus (LGBTQI+) people in South Africa say there is little to celebrate.
Although the rights of this community are recognised in the South African Constitution, some LGBTQI plus activists say acceptance remains elusive. They say they are still faced with hatred and violence, which have dominated their community for years now.
“We don’t want them to love us. They must just accept that we are there and we’re still going to be there. Generations to come there will still be gays and lesbians.”
“‘I don’t gender identify as my assigned birth gender. People see it as taboo. They ask me questions like you are a man why don’t you just stay a man and I’m like but its not me. I see myself as a woman and I want to my entire life as a woman.”
“Pride month is not enough, it should be celebrated everyday. Pride is something within you. The confidence, your dignity, going out there wearing your skirt, going out there and not being judged about what you’re wearing. Not being questioned what you’re wearing because even at home when I go out they will ask my why are you wearing that. Still to this day they will ask me but they claim they have accepted me. I don’t think it’s acceptance. It’s more tolerance than acceptance.”
Executive director of LGBTI plus organisation Access Chapter Two Steve Litsike asserts that the Constitutional recognition of rights does not necessarily equate to the lived reality.
Letsike says the organisation sees a consistent pattern of the trampling of the rights of this community.
“We always say that freedom is meaningless if it is not celebrated by all and in this case of LGBTI persons, LGBTI person might have been exposed to element of freedom by the virtue of the Constitution but if the daily life or their livelihoods is challenged, that means LGBTI persons are not free,” says Litsike.
June was declared Pride Month after the LGBTQI+ community in America protested against police harassment more than 50 years ago.
Although commemorations usually include parades, concerts and marches, the coronavirus pandemic has moved the celebrations indoors and online.
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