LGBTIQ+ people continue to struggle against intolerance in both their communities and their families, according to sexual and gender rights activists who spoke in Khayelitsha on Saturday.
The activists from the Triangle Project were invited by Isitha Women’s Organisation, a non-profit that supports parents of gay and lesbian children, to talk about the challenges faced by the LGBTIQ+ community.
The initialism refers to those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer or those questioning their sexual identity.
Nandipha Jovuka, the founder of Isitha, said she started the organisation after seeing how young people were being abused simply because of their sexual identity.
LGBTIQ+ people often fled the townships for other areas where they could live their lives free of judgement and intolerance, she said.
“Our children are ill-treated. Some are killed and raped because they are gays and lesbians. As an organisation, we are trying to talk to the community to love and accept them as they are. Why kill and rape them when they will never change?
“Most of them have left the townships and rent somewhere else where they are appreciated.
We need to even talk to the schools to educate people about gays and lesbians.“
Carol Lennon, from the Triangle Project, said LGBTIQ+ people were murdered and raped simply because of who they were. And it wasn’t just out in the community that they faced intolerance but also among their own families.
“I always ask myself a question, ‘At what point are you seeing me as what I am?’ For young people, it is hard to come out and say, ‘I am who I am.’ We are being murdered and raped. We are described as sinners, evil and all the wrong words,” she said.
“I know how it is to be judged. There are barriers. Queer people are not hired or employed. But hopefully one day people will stop murdering us and doing those horrendous crimes against us.”
Nosethu Manxilana, the president of Zimbokodo Masakhane Women, a non-profit organisation that runs projects in support of women, said social stigma was a problem and women needed to unite against it as they had the power to change communities.
“We know that women have power to change things. We cannot rely on men because they do not understand what we are all about here today and will never understand,” said Ms Manxilana.
The organisations agreed to work together to educate the communities about the challanges faced by LGBTQI+ people.