SEXUALITY | Being LGBTQ+ in South Africa is still hard

SA like the rest of the world still has many prejudices and stereotypes and beliefs which result in violence and discrimination against and towards LGBTQ+ groups specifically.

Protest against hatred
Soweto Pride 2012. The protest banner reads "Dying for Justice" and the T-shirts read "Solidarity with women who speak out". Image By Charles Haynes from Hobart, Australia - Dying For Justice https://www.flickr.com/people/87232391@N00

The main problem that can be illuminated here is the fact that despite all the rights and opportunities protected in the Constitution, it is still very hard being LGBTQ+ identified in South Africa.

A report called the ‘Progressive Prudes’ has come into the spotlight because it shows that majority of South Africans think that gay and lesbians should have the same rights, protections and dignities as straight people and should be included in all South African cultures and traditions.

Though the report has also tragically found that most South Africans (of all races and ages) still believe that homosexuality is immoral and a sin, even though gay people should be and are theoretically protected by the law.

Former President Zuma’s homophobic comments also indicate that homophobia is deep settled within our cultural fabric as South Africans.

“There are also problems among other groups like the Afrikaner community. A lot Afrikaans families are very traditional and young LGBT Afrikaners are often forced to hide their identities from their families. Some are disowned by their parents and in South Africa, there is hardly any support or welfare for them… the sad reality is that a lot of these people end up on the streets, turn to drugs or sex work because they have no other choice.”

To date, there is no official communication at national level that to provide structured evidence of what the public really thinks about the inclusion of homosexual people in all all spaces of society and the economy.

New data and research is essential in crafting South Africa’s own narrative about lived realities and sufferings of homosexual and bisexual men and women, as well as all other members of the LGBT.

A survey conducted ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day revealed a surge in suicide rates among the LGBT community, this served as a reminder that thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex, transgender etc. people are opting for due to the hellish social attitudes fueled with hatred. Social exclusion is crux of problem which results in violence that continues to spiral out of control.

Black lesbian women in rural communities continue to suffer atrocities of hate crimes such as corrective rape, alienation, beatings and even murder in some cases.

The 2018 murder case of a lesbian couple that were found dead and tortured with multiple stab wounds marked the climax of crimes against gay people which resulted in an uproar.

According to the Hate Crimes Working Group’s (HCWG) five year report, the LGBT community is the most discriminated group , with a staggering 35% of the members reporting hate crimes.

Also, what is really depressing is that a multitude of LGBTQ+ across the African continent seek refuge in South Africa in search of progressive policies that supports their lifestyle. However when they arrive in South Africa, they continue to experience the same homophobia they fled their countries.

There are a number of proposable solutions to this social and legal problem of LGBTQ+ life being made very hard in SA.

Five solutions that can be named are active citizenship, proper education regarding LGBT people, media frequently and openly and positively portraying LGBTQ+ peoples, proper acknowledgment of LGBT peoples in businesses and finally advocacy and action.

Active citizenship is where more gay people are seen to be represented in SA leadership positions and not just in LGBTQ+ issues but rather in all social issues affecting SA.

Then the second solution is regarding queer education.

Life orientation curriculum specifically in South African schools though progressive on paper is not always used due to limited experience and actual teaching by educators who prefer not to show students this because of individual social stigma thus many topics are not explored and explained as intended. Teachers should be more properly monitored from now on.

The third solution is also frequently and openly and positively portraying LGBTQ+ peoples because if they were simply shown more in situations that the masses often find themselves in, and doing similar things such as getting married, the divide between straight and gay people would shrink.

The fourth solution is regarding gay people in business with things such as the LGBTQ+ Forum launching the South African Workplace Equality Index, which ultimately seeks to recognise only employers that are inclusive towards LGBTQ+ groups in SA; this index is seen as a way to change workplace attitudes and encourage more widespread positive change and wider societal acceptance towards gay people in work.

The fifth and final solution for making LGBTQ+ life in SA easier is advocacy and action which is where the LGBT community and all the rights of it in SA are still properly supported and properly positioned and properly fought together by all peoples of the different communities; supporting each other together whilst vocalizing advocacy for the rest of the gay and lesbian peoples of the African continent has the potential to change the absurd idea that to be gay is un-African.

The main problem illuminated is the fact that despite all the rights and opportunities protected in the Constitution, it is still very hard being LGBTQ+ identified in South Africa because of general homophobia.

The highlighted injustices include the many hate crimes are committed against LGBT identified peoples.

No LGBTQ+ identified person should feel life is hard in SA with so many rights and freedoms so there at least five main solutions that should be implemented.

Reference List

  1. Andersson, J. What is happening to LGBT+ rights in South Africa? Pink News, 9 February 2018. [Online]. Available at: https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/02/09/what-is-happening-to-lgbt-rights-in-south-africa/ [Accessed 28 May 2019].
  2. Igual, R. 2019. South Africans are “progressive prudes” when it comes to homosexuality. Mamba Online, 9 September 2016. [Online]. Available at: https://www.mambaonline.com/2016/09/09/south-africans-progressive-prudes-comes-homosexuality/ [Accessed 28 May 2019].
  3. Instagram. 2018. Pretoria Pride. [Online]. Available at: https://www.instagram.com/p/BomI4GGB1b4/ [Accessed 30 May 2019].
  4. Matthews, A. 2019. Gay rights in Africa: ‘one step forwards, one step back.’ Financial mail, 21 February 2019. [Online]. Available at: https://www.businesslive.co.za/fm/features/africa/2019-02-21-the-rise-of-religious-extremism-and-homophobia-in-north-africa/ [Accessed 28 May 2019].
  5. SAHO. 2000-2017.Why protect rights of gays and lesbians? [Online]. Available at: https://www.sahistory.org.za/article/why-protect-rights-gays-and-lesbians [Accessed 28 May 2019].
  6. Wikipedia. 2012. Dying for Justice. [Online]. Available at: https://it.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dying_For_Justice_(8036294736).jpg [Accessed 30 May 2019].
  7. World Economic Forum. Pillay, R. 2019. South Africa still hasn’t won LGBTQ+ equality. Here are 5 reasons why, 30 November 2018. [Online]. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/11/south-africa-road-to-lgbtq-equality/ [Accessed 28 May 2019].