by Charmain Carrol
On the 21st of November 2013 Inkanyiso received an invitation by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature to attend a stakeholders meeting on the 27th of November 2013.
A few emails were sent back and forth with us confirming our attending as well as stating the number of participants that would be attending. We wondered why all of a sudden we were part of the conversation but concluded it was election season and anything goes.
We entered the Johannesburg City Hall and we were ushered to the Committee room, where we had to register and get nametags. They had made a few spelling errors on our surnames but we did not fuss much.
Deputy Chairperson, Mr Wally Valentine Mbatha started deliberations by stating why we had been invited to be part of the discussion.
He made the point that they were aware of the increase in violence against the LGBTI community, mentioning the stoning to death of Noxolo Nogwaza, a lesbian who in 2010 was raped and stoned to death because of her sexual orientation in Kwathema. He highlighted an increase in violence towards women and children as well.
The chair went on to say “it is with utter disgust that these atrocities happen under our door steps and it is called ‘corrective rape.’ It was later found that the perpetrator known to Duduzile Zozo, they grew up together and he stayed not so far from her home.
He was present at the night vigil when the family mourned the death of their daughter, this is one person who was treated very badly by the community and later on was killed by that particular perpetrator.”
With that being said Mr Mbatha emphasized that the Gauteng Provincial Legislature wanted to build a sustainable collaboration with the LGBTI stakeholders, one that will have accountability to both sectors.
A result based outcome partnership.
He also spoke about the discrimination of the LGBTI in the private sector and how the legislature was involved in investigating these incidents.
Mbatha informed the LGBTI stakeholders on the progress made by researchers and content advisers on producing a non-exclusive documents. They are working hard to meet their deadline for the 3rd of December 2013.
There will be a follow up meeting to this date where the GPL will have all the content and information ready to present, based on the deliberations.
After watching the corporate video, Peter Skhosana, the Deputy Secretary of the provincial legislator welcomed questions and comments. The deliberations began and the floor was opened and participants encouraged to give comments or asked questions by showing hands.
The first comment came from Lerato Dumse and it was about the medium of communication. She highlighted the fact that English was the language being predominantly used deliberations. She suggested that attendants be allowed to speak in their own native language as the country observes 11 official languages and that people would be able to articulate themselves better in their own language.
She also enquired on the absence of religious groups in this group and that it would have been of outmost importance to have them in this engagement as she represents the LGBTI sector.
Letebele asked if the GPL works hand in hand with the police.
The chair responded, conceding that people should speak in any language native to them so as to articulate themselves fully.
He also stated that they felt that it would be better for the GPL to meet with the stake holders first and understand the LGBTI issues first and then invite the religious groups to subsequent meetings, since this was a fact finding mission for the GPL.
The answer to the police is that yes they do have a working relationship with the police.
Other comments that came up were;
Lindi Zikhali from private sector said “ I hope this is not a gimmick for election purposes as we as the LGBTI community have been called to rooms and promised things and thereafter been left out. Zikhali also spoke of her appearance as she is a Butch lesbian who dresses in men’s suits and shoes and how she did not choose to be who she is. She highlighted to the legislature to really consider correcting its wording on all their documents and spoken language as this is not a sexual preference for her.
· Bontle Khalo said she understands that this is a learning curve for everyone, but we need to shy away from just using Lesbians and gays but use the LGBTI acronym as it includes everyone
· Senzo said there was a need to include the disabled LGBTI people as they are not even invited in this meeting and they suffer double discrimination.
· Peter spoke on addiction problems in the LGBTI community
· Letebele, wanted to know if t there was going to be an LGBTI curriculum in the schools?
· Charmain registered her skepticism of the fact finding mission and added that religious leaders in the LGBTI community like Rev Nokuthula Dhladhla should have been invited to be part of the dialogue, if a true picture was being painted.
Yes! I am a lesbian and Yes we are Christians too.
· Tumelo would like visibility of MSM and WSM posters in clinics and have the people working in the clinics be trained to deal or assist the LGBTI community with prejudice and discrimination.
· Ntsupe wanted to know who the logistics of the next meeting. She also suggested that the legislature hold an educational workshop around the terminology used for the LGBTI community.
These are some of the questions and comments that came out on the engagements and will be included in the next dialogue.
Mbatha clarified the questions and comments that were made, but emphasized that this is the beginning of a great partnership between the homosexuals and heterosexuals, and that this is not a ploy for votes. He reiterated that lesbians and gays are humans too and they have the right to be in leadership.
We were provided with dinner and transportation. It felt as a positive and signified way forward.
On 28th November 2013, we received our invitation to attend another sit down the 3rd of December 2013, 2013, before that meeting took place, on the 2nd of December 2013 we received an email postponing the meeting to the last week of January 2014.
We are still optimistic that the meeting will happen. We were also requested to mobilize as many as 300 others.
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