Kaunda Selisho

By Kaunda Selisho

Journalist


DA slams plan for LGBTI database at Eastern Cape schools

It's an infringement on the privacy of pupils' lifestyles, and dangerous in a climate of 'corrective rape' and assault based on sexual preference, the DA says.


A division within the Department of Education in the Eastern Cape wants to create a database with the names of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) pupils.

That’s according to the Democratic Alliance (DA), who says it is outraged at what it describes as a “draconian database” which is “irregular, irresponsible and unconstitutional”.

DA Shadow MEC for Education, Edmund Van Vuuren cited an email sent to schools around the province.

Van Vuuren said the Special Programmes Unit Head Office instructed schools to provide them with a list of all LGBTI pupils from their schools. According to the email the data is for an imminent workshop to raise awareness of LGBTI rights.

The workshop is expected to take place at the end of the month. The email says only 10 pupils will be selected to attend the workshop, while the rest will be added to a database.

“The creation of a database of learners belonging to the LGBTI community is an infringement on the privacy of the lifestyles of these learners and, in the wrong hands, could very easily result in physical harm”.

“In a climate where “corrective rape” and assault based on sexual preference is commonplace, we cannot afford to expose members of this community to further risk and discrimination,” Van Vuuren said.

In their 2017 Fast Facts report, the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) dubbed the Eastern Cape “South Africa’s most homophobic province.”

The DA said it had no problem with the holding of the workshop for advocacy purposes, however it would have been proper to have invited representatives from Learner Representative Councils from schools within the districts.

Van Vuuren has since written to the director of the Special Programmes Unit, Mr Mtirara, requesting that the request for names to be forwarded should be stopped immediately, and that district offices must be instructed not to continue with the creation of “illegal and discriminatory” databases.

The Department of Education was not immediately available to comment.

Meanwhile, in 2017 a 25-year-old DA employee based in the Bhisho legislature filed a case of sexual harassment against Van Vuuren.

The Cape Times reported that he was later suspended from the party after being found guilty of sexual harassment but it seems his suspension was merely a recommendation the party’s Federal Legal Commission (FLC) made following an internal disciplinary process and the suspension was never carried out.

DA Federal chairperson James Selfe told the Cape Times that the delay in finalising this matter was largely due to the unavailability of Van Vuuren’s legal counsel.

According to The Dispatch the only recourse the DA has taken thus far was only applied this past June when Van Vuuren was fined and sent to rehab to learn “the acceptable approach to females.”

African News Agency (ANA)

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