Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Legislature held a march in Durban, in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community, and to call for justice in cases of hate crimes.
The march was followed by a symposium at the Olive Convention Centre. June is recognised as Pride Month around the world, after it first was commemorated in the US – in honour of the Stonewall riots.
In South Africa, concerns have been raised about the crimes against men and women, who have been attacked or killed because of their sexual orientation.
In KZN last year, Anele Bhengu, a 22-year-old lesbian, was raped and stabbed to death in KwaMakhutha, allegedly due to her sexual orientation.
KZN’s legislature speaker Nontembeko Boyce said: “Lesbians, in an often homophobic and patriarchal society, face a further danger – the idea that they can be changed through what is known as corrective rape,” Boyce said, in reference to Bhengu’s death.
Speaking at the symposium, Boyce said the province wanted to honour the activists who were part of the Pride marches that took place around the world last weekend, and those who continuously fight for LGBTQIA+ rights.
She added that the country should fight all forms of discrimination, including discrimination regarding sexuality.
“I want to reiterate that your body belongs to you, and the rights are the same for everyone, no matter their sexuality,” she said.
Boyce added that the KZN legislature, together with civil society organisations, were dedicated to ensuring that the hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ people are stopped.
“We are not here to do a talkshop, we are here to deliver progress. Councillors must preach diversity in their communities because if we don’t participate in public education, we will be led by stereotypes,” said Boyce.
MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture Hlengiwe Mavimbela, speaking on behalf of the provincial government, said the Freedom Charter had paved the way for the Constitution – and equal rights must be enjoyed by all.
DA spokesperson for Social Development Mmabatho Tembe said: “We all need to work together to protect citizens of our province and be involved in processes, so we can make input as well.
“Communities need to be educated and be part of programmes related to LGBTQIA+ to promote understanding. Safe spaces in communities need to be developed to protect community members,” she said.