The increase in hate crimes such as murder, “corrective” rape and physical violence means that the “safe environment” that South Africa is perceived to be is no longer existent observed Saeanna Chingamuka, Genderlinks website Editor.
She noted that there were no visible campaigns for the LGBTI community in the fight against HIV, TB and Malaria among other diseases.
She said such a campaign must be launched and by Heads of States.
They should come out in full support of the protection of LGBTI people and create environments within their own countries in which these people enjoy their rights and reach their full potential in all aspects of life. “This is what transformative leadership is about,” she submitted.
Chingamuka said those who claimed to be human rights defenders needed to also understand that issues of sexual orientation were human rights issues too.
People have a right to choose what they want and who they want to become.
As people with the means, human rights defenders need to also ensure that when fighting for rights in such platforms, they should also remember the rights of sexual minorities. “We cannot be selective about which rights are “right” and which rights are immoral or culturally unacceptable,” she lamented.
“Unless we, those who claim to understand what human rights are about, fight for the rights of all people, we should not look over our shoulders when people start pointing fingers at us about our double standards.
If as civil society we are going to speak truth to power, we need to speak truth to ourselves and define whose rights we represent.
If we cannot represent the rights of sexual minorities, then we cease to be advocates of human rights.
There is need for a paradigm shift in the way we think about rights and whose rights we defend.
We need to cultivate a culture of tolerance in society.
While we have been responsible for cultivating a social climate of prejudice and stigma against LGBTI’s, we can also be agents of change that promote inclusiveness.
Probably our leaders need to be at the helm of the campaign for the rights of sexual minorities and all the citizens will follow suit. This is because the power they yield can influence public opinion and in this case assist in understanding the politics of sexuality.
This is the SADC that we need to demand,” Chingamuka emphasized.