President Cyril Ramaphosa called on to fight for LGBTQI rights throughout Africa
Share this article:
Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance on Saturday urged President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity of African Union chairman, to put the plight of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) community in Africa on the agenda.
Speaking during the Cape Town Pride Festival, DA leader John Steenhuisen said Cape Town, in particular, could feel proud. There was not another place in South Africa that embraced and cherished the LGBTQI community like the Mother City did.
Cape Town had long been a friend and ally to the LGBTQI community, and many of the advances in the fight against discrimination were pioneered here first.
"We have come a long way, but we are not done yet. This fight is not truly won as long as people elsewhere are still persecuted and prosecuted for simply being who they are. Yes, we can celebrate the strides we have made here, but we cannot be content with this freedom while so many of our brothers and sisters on this continent still suffer every day at the hands of prejudice, bigotry, and cruel legislation. In many African countries, being gay is enough to get you thrown in jail, or worse," he said.
Countries such as Nigeria, Tanzania, Sudan, Malawi, and Kenya had extremely repressive laws about same-sex relationships. In places such as Uganda, Mauritania, and Somalia this was even punishable by death.
"We cannot simply be satisfied with our own society’s liberation. We owe it to the people of these countries to help fight for the same freedoms we now take for granted. We certainly cannot do as Deputy President [David] Mabuza suggests and 'be decent enough to keep our mouth shut' when it comes to the inhumane treatment of the LGBTQI communities elsewhere in Africa," Steenhuisen said.
That might reflect Mabuza's own views and his own idea of morality, but he most certainly did not speak for the rest of South Africans. "We don’t mind our business. We speak up when we see an injustice."
"But ... Mabuza also reminded us that there are platforms like the African Union and the Southern African Development Community where these issues can be discussed. And it just so happens that our very own President Cyril Ramaphosa has recently assumed the chairmanship of the African Union – a position he will hold for the year.
"Never before has there been a better opportunity to put the plight of the LGBTQI community in Africa on the agenda. Just as President Ramaphosa owes it to South Africans this year to show courage and backbone in defending our economy from the enemies of growth, he owes it to our fellow Africans to stand up for them and defend their freedom on the continent’s biggest stage," Steenhuisen said.
"So the challenge is clear, Mr President: Show the world that you do not share your deputy president’s backwards views on looking the other way when it comes to human rights abuses. Make it clear that an attack on a member of the LGBTQI community in Kampala or Dar es Salaam or Mogadishu is as unacceptable as an attack here at home. Make your term as chair of the AU count, and push hard for the rights of all Africans to be whomever they want to be, and to love whomever they want.
"No one will remember the guy who didn’t rock the boat, but history does not forget those who stand up and speak out – those who start the tough conversations and those who fight for the oppressed. If you want to make your mark as the head of the AU this year, President Ramaphosa, fighting for the equality and dignity of all Africans would be a source of great pride," Steenhuisen said.