Cape Town - A recent report by the Institute for Race Relations (IRR) on the voting preferences of the LGBTQIA+ population has revealed that the group was a strategically untapped market for political parties.
Named The SA Pink Vote, it also revealed that the LGBTQIA+ population might be a much larger voting bloc than expected and that it was possible for political parties from different ideological viewpoints to compete for support from LGBTQIA+ voters.
It also found that the LGBTQIA+ voters tend to be more politically engaged than other demographic groups.
Gerbrandt van Heerden, the author of the report, said if political parties continued to ignore this voting bloc during elections, they risked missing out on an active, dynamic and electorally valuable market.
“Studies conducted by The Other Foundation have shown that conservative estimates place South Africa’s LGBTQIA+ population at around half a million. This means that there is, potentially, a sizeable number of LGBTQIA+ voters, and ignoring this group during election campaigns would be a mistake.
“Understanding and appealing to it would be a matter of electoral competitiveness – and a win for any political party that prides itself on human rights, equality and freedom,” he said.
Van Heerden said the DA was the party noted as being most likely to do the best job when promoting LGBTQIA+ rights as it had the most members who were publicly open about their sexuality and gender identity.
He said the EFF promoted itself as a political party that supported LGBTQIA+ rights and was not hesitant to openly criticise other African countries that clamped down on LGBTQIA+ citizens, while the ANC did not appear to have many open LGBTQIA+ MPs.
Van Heerden said the majority of respondents indicated that they did not trust or believe political parties when they promised to create a better world for LGBTQIA+ people.
He said there were few openly queer politicians in South Africa and those who were in a position of influence needed to use the opportunity to make their respective political parties more accessible to the queer community.
LGBTQIA+ activist Kamva Gwana said the report was yet another indication of the legitimacy and potential strength that remained untapped in South Africa when it came to the LGBTQIA+ community.
“Political awareness is often inherent to LGBTQIA+ bodies due to the politicisation of our very existence in the current socio-political climate, thus it is no surprise that these findings compel political parties to tap into our base,” he said.