Free Gender made history last weekend by hosting the very first black lesbian conference in South Africa as a whole. The conference met in Khayelitsha ahead of the first official Department of Justice task force meeting on Wednesday to combat “corrective rape” in South Africa. Free Gender sits on the task force.
Free Gender issued the following press release about the conference:
This conference will be highlighting the issues that are facing lesbians in our communities, create space for dialogue between lesbians and the community where the myths about lesbians will be cleared, mend the long lost relationship between police officers and lesbian and create space where lesbians will showcase their talents and skills.
It is very vital for this conference to succeed as we will be celebrating the changes within government. Free Gender is currently a part in the interim task team to end corrective rape that includes the department of justice and constitutional development hence this proves the commitment that the government is showing in dealing with lesbian issues. At last, the police department is willing to cooperate and take action when it comes to homophobia. Therefore this for Free Gender is a celebration because it shows that our voices are heard at last…
Deputy Minister of Police, Ms Makhotso Maggie Sotyu (MP), offered the following remarks at the conference:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Minister of Police, and as a Deputy Minister of Police, I would like to open my remarks by an unconditional apology to all those that have been brutalised, attacked, discriminated against, and raped solely because they have a different sexual orientation.
Homophobia and hate crimes are unacceptable, and we are saying as ANC-led Government, enough is enough. We will and cannot tolerate that, some section of our citizens continue to suffer in painful silence whist their own Constitution protect them to live the lifestyle they choose, lawfully.
As a member-state of the UN, we, as a country have also conveyed this message to the United Nations by submitting a ground-breaking resolution to the UN asking this International body to undertake a study on discrimination and sexual orientation. This was a stunning leadership show by South Africa as we seek to have a constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation.
We must not forget that this nation was built on dialogue and not through violence. We still believe as ANC-led Government in the power of dialogue. As young democracy, we cannot afford to seek imposing values.