Although South Africa is known globally for its progressive laws, Deputy Minister Jeffery said that more needs to be done to build safer communities and a society in which LGBTI persons are accepted and respected.
“The harassment and victimisation of LGBTI persons will only stop if we keep sending a message of respect and acceptance of LGBTI persons. Gay rights are human rights. The most important message we need to send is one of our common humanity. Regardless of the colour of our skin, our gender or our sexual orientation, we all want the same things – respect, care, compassion and acceptance. We are all human beings”, he said.
This campaign was also launched in memory of the many hate crime victims in the LGBTI community and specifically remembers Lesego “Small” Manganye who tragically committed suicide earlier this year after she was subjected to two incidents of rape.
During this launch, Deputy Minister Jeffery interacted with the family of Lesego Manganye and urged the community, civil society and public servants to work together to root out discrimination and violence directed at LGBTI persons.
“To Mme Manganye, we feel your pain at the loss of your daughter. No parent should ever have to feel the loss of a child. No person, in a country such as ours, where we are supposed to embrace our freedoms, should ever have to feel such despair as Lesego had”, he said.
Last year, the department launched the LGBTI Programme which aims to promote partnership amongst government, civil society, business and the media in the fight against gender and sexual orientation-based violence and to encourage communities to report such crimes.
This followed the work of the National Task Team (NTT) which was set up in 2011 to develop a National Intervention Strategy that will be used as a guide to clamp down on violence against LGBTI persons.
Subsequent to this, Provincial Task Teams (PTTs) were established in all the provinces and they will be allocated a budget to implement the National Intervention Strategy activities, such as community dialogues and awareness initiatives.
Deputy Minister Jeffery also announced that the Africa Regional Seminar will be held from 3 to 5 March 2016 and that the proposed venue for the Regional Seminar will be the Pan African Parliament, so as to elevate the profile of the event.
The objective of the seminar will be to facilitate an open, constructive and informed dialogue on the issue of discrimination and acts of violence against individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and generate greater understanding on the root causes and manifestation of these challenges.
In a statement, the Department of Justice said that “government is committed to fight all forms of sexual and gender based violence and encourages all the victims to report these crimes to police and the Rapid Response Teams. Working together, government, civil society and our communities can stamp out violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.”