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Tradition leader ‘will hear’ gay submissions

in SOUTH AFRICA, 12/09/2012

Despite concerns from Parliament speaker Max Sisulu and gay activists on the participation of Phatekile Holomisa in the discussions on submissions made by the gay and lesbian community, Parliament’s constitutional review committee is adamant that he has to participate.

South Africa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) community is protesting current proposals before the committee submitted by the Mpumalanga House of Traditional Leaders seeking to remove protections against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation from the Constitution.

The community also want a “disciplinary review” against Holomisa and other committee members “for their actions leading to the acceptance” of the proposal.

Holomisa, whose views on gays and lesbians have become controversial, is president of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa).

In May, Holomisa was reported to have said the majority of South Africans did not support the rights of gays and lesbians.

In a letter to Holomisa dated August 27, a copy of which has been made available to the media, Sisulu urged Holomisa to recuse himself from co-chairing the committee when the matter comes before it, due to his membership of the National House of Traditional Leaders.

Sisulu said while the submissions “are unsolicited and therefore not being formally tabled and referred to the constitutional review committee, they are being sent to the committee for consideration as a practical means of giving effect to Parliament’s vision of being responsive to the needs of the people”.

But on Friday the committee came to Holomisa’s defence saying he was not a member of the NHTL.

Holomisa’s counterpart on the committee, Bafunani Mnguni said the gay community had “jumped the gun” by asserting that the committee wanted to remove the sexual orientation clause from the Constitution.

He said they had not yet started deliberating on the issue and were still waiting to receive formal submissions.

Mnguni said the committee would be writing back to Sisulu “as soon as possible” explaining that the committee wanted Holomisa to stay on during deliberations on the matter as he was not a member of the NHTL.

Recently South Africa has been plagued with reports of brutal murders of LGBTI people as well as incidents of “corrective rape” taking place.

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