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LGBTI vigil hits Joburg

Reading the memorandum by S:P:S
Reading the memorandum, a photo by S:P:S on Flickr.

About 500 people gathered in the Library Gardens in central Johannesburg on former president Nelson Mandela’s birthday today to make another stand against discrimination of LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) peoples. The march was especially prominent given the number of brutal attacks on such people in recent months. Most notably, of Thapelo Makutle, 24, of Kuruman in the Northern Cape.

The 67-minute picket and vigil started in Library Gardens but soon marched to Luthuli House to present their memorandum to ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe. The Secretary General didn’t pitch, and I don’t think anyone was expecting him to, but the memorandum was read by Virginia Magwaza-Setshedi, spokesperson of the march and signed outside Luthuli House by Mandla Dlamini, the election manager of the ANC. (I have no idea what an election manager was doing signing the memorandum and Dlamini’s description of his position made no sense to me).

The LGBTI memorandum called for the full protection of LGBTI individuals against discrimination in all its forms. It also called for change of ANC policy. Many feel the ruling party is letting such individuals down as the original writers of the Freedom Charter.

Not everyone was happy about the LGBTI group walking on the streets. More than one shop owner in the area and passers-by voiced their disapproval with more than one mention of the church, hell and damnation. Apparently Jesus Christ doesn’t approve.

In short, the vigil ended peacefully and in time with the apparent point being made.

From the initial invite to the vigil, “We call on you to join us on Mandela’s Birthday, 18 July 2012, to give your 67 minutes to civic action against hate-crimes. Mandela gave his life for human rights and activism, and so should we. Mandela also gave his life for the vision of living in a free South Africa. He was a dedicated member of the ANC. The ANC drafted the Freedom Charter and we fought against all forms of discrimination. Now we live in a democratic state with a progressive constitution, we have to uphold the ideals, that the “People’s Power, Reign Supreme”. The ANC has failed us! The President of the ANC has been silent on violence, homophobia and xenophobia. The ANC has excluded sexual orientation from its gender policy and is silent on hate crimes and violence against LGBTI persons.”

Let’s see what effect it has.

Go forth and kiss, you LGBTI peeps you.

Signing the memorandum by S:P:S
Signing the memorandum, a photo by S:P:S on Flickr.

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