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South Africa: Cultural justification for homophobia condemned

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – The Citizen newspaper reports that the South African ruling party's Western Cape arm has condemned the use of culture to justify homophobic discrimination and violence.

Gay Flag of South Africa (GFSA) had called on the African National Congress (ANC) to send a message that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights are human rights, and South Africans' "choice of identity has to be respected, irrespective of sexual orientation," the report states. 

“It is my belief that gay rights are human rights and that no homophobic violence or prejudice should be tolerated,” Songezo Mjongile, secretary of the Western Cape, reportedly said.

Gay Star News cites Mjongile as saying that socially conservative views are fuelling attacks against lesbians living in the country's black townships. "Women have got the right to say whether they want to bear children, whether they want to be single or whether they want get married, in the same way that men have," he said.

Mjongile's remarks come in the wake of South African President Jacob Zuma's recent comments that it's a problem when women don't marry. The Guardian cites an interview Zuma did with South Africa's public broadcaster, in which he says, "I know that people today think being single is nice. It's actually not right. That's a distortion. You've got to have kids. Kids are important to a woman because they actually give an extra training to a woman, to be a mother." 

In 2006, before the legalization of same-sex marriage in South Africa, Zuma — then a presidential hopeful — called gay marriage "a disgrace to the nation and to od."

But earlier this year, Zuma rebuked a Zulu king for saying that homosexuals are "rotten" and "same sex is not acceptable."

"Today, we are faced with different challenges . . . challenges of reconciliation and of building a nation that does not discriminate against other people because of their colour or sexual orientation," Zuma reportedly said, according to News24.


Landing image: IOLNews (Brenton Geach)

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