Government is out of touch with the issues facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community in Gauteng, say members of the community who attended the Nthirisano (a Gauteng Government social initiative) dialogue in Soweto on Friday.
After recent incidents of violence and prejudice in poor communities against LGBTI people, hundreds flocked to the Nasrec Expo Centre to engage government on the human rights issues that affect them because of their sexuality.
“We are young, scared, invisible people who are in constant fear of being violated because we are different,” said 23-year-old Siboniso*, a transgender woman who told the Saturday Citizen.
“We have the constitution and laws that protect us, but when we get kicked out of our homes, when we get attacked by cowards who fear us because we are different, we do not feel safe and we have no one to cry to.”
Dozens of stalls set up by sexual health and human rights NGOs were stacked with pamphlets and free condoms and HIV/Aids related exhibits. The displays angered some members of the crowd, who felt that the set-up gave the impression that the only issue facing the LBGTI community was HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.
Members of the South African Police Service were also in attendance.
“It is good that they are here because when we go to police stations to lay charges against people who attack us, they don’t take us seriously,” said Thulo*, a 19-year-old who said she was lesbian.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura addressed Friday’s inaugural event, which he promised would now be an annual one.
“There are people who get killed for who they are … not on our watch, that cannot happen in this province,” he said.