Giving LGBTI community a voice

Free Gender founder, Funeka Soldaat, said her organisation is facing a lot of challenges and has appealed to parents to support their children and the society to be open for them.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) movements in Khayelitsha are lamenting the lack of support for their members and those they advocate for.

Free Gender, a non profit organisation for black non-heterosexual women whose focus is to deal with homophobia and hate crimes in townships, said it has found that many young lesbians have challenges at home, which sometimes led to excessive drinking and feelings of insecurity in their relationships.

Founder Funeka Soldaat said this type of behaviour also stems from a society that does not accept people for what they are.

She said LGBTI people commonly face obstacles in their daily lives, whether it be at home, in the streets, in public spaces like shops and entertainment – anywhere they go.

Ms Soldaat said they are often called names and bullied by people who do not want to understand them or their situation. She said even organisations that call themselves human rights organisations have abandoned them.

“Counselling organisations do not speak honestly to them.

“All they do when they counsel them is to want to be politically correct. We do not want that. We want people to speak honestly and truly,” she told Vukani.

She said the LGBTI community face a lot of hate crimes.

“They have lost trust in themselves. Some are from abusive relationships. Many are from homes that do not want to accept their situation. They end up drinking and having unnecessary fights because they want recognition,” she said.

She said the only way to stop this cycle is to come together and speak out. She said her organisation is trying to give LGBTI people a platform to speak.

She said another challenge is for parents to support their LGBTI children. She said LGBTI people should know and believe that they could and should exist in the country on their terms and according to their sexuality and lifestyles.

For more information about Free Gender, call 021 362 9491 or call Funeka Soldaat directly on 076 321 0276.