LGBTI community question parties

DA member of Parliament Zak Mbhele, addresses those who had attended a debate at Isivivana Centre .

In an effort to raise the plight and issues of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, Free Gender Organisation held an informative and thought-provoking debate at Isivivana Centre in Khayelitsha.

The debate, on Friday April 26, was aimed at giving political parties a platform to explain in-depth the policies they have in place
pertaining to LGBTI people and how they plan to implement them.

The organisation pointed out that many political parties were on the campaign trail and had issued their manifestos, however, they said not one political party talks about their issues and that was a major concern. They claimed that this makes them feel neglected and like lesser human beings.

The organisation said they had invited almost all the political parties in the province to form part of the panel. However, they were shocked that it was only the Democratic Alliance that had availed itself.

Zak Mbhele, from the DA, and a member of Parliament, was the keynote speaker who had attended the gathering.

Representative of Free Gender, Funeka Soldaat, said the event sought to peruse the manifestos of political parties in an effort to ascertain whether they speak about the issues facing the LGBTI community.

She said with less than a week before the country went to the polls to vote, not one political party seemed to make a noise about their issues or engaged them.

She said they wanted political parties to table their manifestos so that they also could be able to make informed decisions.

Ms Soldaat said they also wanted to inform political parties about their frustrations and issues affecting them which at times were ignored. She stated that many political parties were absent in their campaigns.

Ms Soldaat said almost all the parties have a policy which talks about the LGBTI but not even a single party has explained thoroughly how it plans to implement it. Furthermore, she said they had made many requests to engage with some of the political parties about their policies pertaining to the LGBTI community , but none of them had availed themselves.

She said the political party that is in power was visible in Gauteng when the LGBTI community had marches and gatherings, and yet in this province they were nowhere to be seen.

She said according to the Constitution, they were regarded among the most vulnerable people together with senior citizens and disabled people.

But, she said, when it comes to housing allocation
they were shocked that they were no longer considered as a priority and only senior citizens and
disabled people considered. This, she said, was confusing and was a bitter pill to swallow.

“We want these political parties to tell how are these policies are going to work in practice. We strongly believe that these parties need
to advance the struggle of our people.

We feel secluded. It’s sad that only one political party comes to us and others just don’t appear – that speaks volumes in terms of their priorities.

“We want to be heard. We are humans too,” she said.

Ayakha Menzi said such debates were important as they afforded them an opportunity to engage with political parties about their agendas.

Ms Menzi said the LGBTI community were also affiliated to different political parties and it’s unbelievable that some did not pitch. She said their interests should be safe-guarded and protected as well, because they were human beings too.