Despite Homophobia South Africa is a World leader for LGBTI Rights – Constitutional Equality ‘flagged’ by the fight vs. homophobia
By Melanie Nathan Oct 06, 2012.
The South African government has announced in the official Government Gazette that Gay Flag of South Africa has been approved and accepted as South Africa’s official gay flag (an adaptation of the international gay flag and the South African national flag).
This makes South Africa the first country in the world to officially recognize a gay flag and probably any official LGBTI symbol. The Department of Arts and Culture through the Bureau of Heraldry designs and registers heraldic representations such as flags and is guided by the Heraldry Act, which governs the use and protection of national symbols which is currently under the authority of the Minister of Arts & Culture. “The Gay Flag of SA is now officially recognized and protected by the Department of Arts and Culture and the government of South Africa,” said Mava Mothiba from the department.
Eugene Brockman, the designer of the flag and co-founder with Henry Bantjes of the non-profit organization that promotes the flag told me: “The flag has become a symbol for both the celebration of queer South African identity as well as the a symbol against the obstacles facing LGBTI South Africans such as hate crimes. More than that the flag has become a watch dog, and its popularity resulted in the formation of an NPO advocacy group.”
Gay Flag of South Africa spearheaded ad hoc coalitions of other South African LGBTI groups, which protested Adv. Pathekile Holomisa’s attack on the South African Constitution. Recently Holomisa was asked to step down from his role as leader of CONTRALESA’s (Council of Traditional leaders of South Africa) because of his conflict of interests. Pathekile Holomisa, also on the constitutional review committee, tried to rob South Africa’s LGBTI from their Constitutional right to equality, by attempting to take LGBTI protections under review to remove them from the Bill of Rights. This did nothing more than inflame already rampant homophobia amongst traditionalists and gangsters willing to rape and kill under any perceived justification.
The Gay Flag of South Africa (GFSA) is currently on tour of South Africa with a showcase of acts, going from town to town, in a decked up Budget Rental Bus, promoting the Gay Flag, equality and the right to live free of homophobia in South Africa.
The group met this week with acclaimed out gay Justice Edwin Cameron, who invited the GFSA to the constitutional court to celebrate and acknowledge the gay flag team’s efforts.
On Mandela Day the Gay Flag of South Africa protested the ANC led government to demand action against homophobic violence, rapes and murder which lead to constructive talks between the government and the group, representing the SA LGBTI community. As a result the ANC openly and publicly condemned all homophobic discrimination, violence, rape, murder and the recent mutilations of victims based on their sexual orientation.
“It is my belief that gay rights are human rights and that no homophobic violence or prejudice should be tolerated. The ANC has always endeavored to build an equal and progressive South Africa. The ANC’s values are guided by the South African constitution, where we develop an equal non-sexist, non-racial and non-homophobic nation,” said Songezo Mjongile, Western Cape ANC secretary. “We are committed to work with the Gay Flag,” he said.
“Though we are a politically neutral organization,” noted Brockman, “we are excited that the ANC is sending a message of acceptance and respect for LGBTI South Africans to their vast constituencies. We are world leaders in gay rights, and now with our own flag we can do so much more. It is time that we start placing economic sanctions on African countries who are violating human rights and perpetuating crimes against their LGBTI citizens,” Brockman said. “Uganda is the first country we should target. We plan to have further talks with the ANC on this matter,” he said.
Article by Melanie Nathan, @melanienathan1
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