Johannesburg - The Iranti-organisation says it is disappointed at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s silence on issues facing the LGBTQI+ community during his State of The Nation Address (Sona).
Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Thursday where he highlighted challenges faced by the country and announced some measures to improve the lives of South Africans.
He also touched on gender-based violence.
Iranti is an organisation formed to help local and regional lesbian, trans, intersex and gender non-conforming (LTIGNC) movements in South Africa and across the continent.
The organisation has been part of a campaign in the lead up to the Sona where they asked members of the queer community to express what they want Ramaphosa to say.
“We do not feel heard, this was just yet another Sona where the LGBTQI+ community was not explicitly mentioned, the issues facing the community were not addressed by the president at all in his speech despite our #queersonadigital campaign which we ran the entire week proceeding to Sona. This tells us that we continue to remain invisible to the state and the highest office in the land,” said Iranti spokesperson Nolwazi Tusini in a broadcast interview on Saturday.
Tusini said the queer community is not only marginalised, but is currently facing violence and human rights abuses in this country.
“What we were saying in our press statement in response to Sona is that children as young as infants are being subjected to intersex genital mutilation which is essentially unnecessary, unconsensual and harmful general surgeries to make their bodies to go in line to being a male or female, instead of leaving the children because the surgeries are not necessary for their bodies ,” said Tusini.
She said children are facing a wide range of discrimination in schools which means they either end up being excluded from school or drop-out or face mental health issues like depression.
“In 2021 we had 20 queer individuals being killed in circumstances that suggest they were killed because of their sexuality, and till this day we have not seen any movement to stop these killings. So when we said we need the president to attend to these issues, it's not because we want attention, it is a matter of life and death and a matter of dignity for the community,” said Tusini.
She said the community had been contributing to this country in various ways throughout its history, and would continue to do that because they believe in the future of the country.
“We have been left out of the social compact because it does not directly address the issues facing the queer community. We cannot help but feel the sense of sadness, the head of state does not see us as important enough to speak directly to us to attend to our issues while we are still alive and can contribute to society,” Tusini said.
She said they hoped the president would begin to publicly address their issues and put resources together to ensure that queer people can live the lives promised by the Constitution.