Left behind: Ramaphosa’s SONA LGBTIQ exclusion


President Cyril Ramaphosa did not mention the LGBTIQ community in his SONA (Pic: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock)

LGBTIQ rights group lranti says it’s both disappointed and sad that President Cyril Ramaphosa failed to address the needs of the LGBTIQ community in last week’s State of Nation Address (SONA).

Ahead of the speech, lranti mounted a #QueerSONA social media campaign urging the president to acknowledge the concerns of the community and spell out how these would be resolved by the state.

Ramaphosa, however, did not mention the LGBTIQ community at all in his address to the nation.

In the SONA, he called upon South Africans to “reaffirm our commitment to a Constitution that protects us all.” But, said Iranti, “for many LGBTIQ persons the protections given in the Constitution often do not find expression in our daily lives.”

It pointed out that, “unemployment and poverty are compounded by the violence and discrimination we are subjected to because of our sexual orientation, sex, gender identity and gender expression.”

While Ramaphosa spoke of a new consensus where the state must create “an environment in which South Africans can live a better life and unleash the energy of their capabilities,” Iranti argues that “LGBTIQ persons are not included in this new consensus.”

In particular, the group has called for urgent action to be taken to address concerns about legal gender recognition, intersex genital mutilation, and the violence that saw at least 24 LGBTIQ South Africans brutally murdered between February and December 2021.

The group said that many transgender, nonbinary and intersex persons are struggling to access something as basic as identity documents, locking them out of accessing employment opportunities, housing, education, healthcare as well as many other services and transactions that require identity documents.

It also asserted that “as of today, nothing concrete has been done to bring an end to the hate crimes and violence faced by LGBTIQ persons in South Africa. Our entire community has been left behind.”

lranti’s Executive Director, Jabu Pereira commented that, “South Africa is up for review at the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review in 2022 and it’s evident that LGBTIQ rights protections have progressively regressed along with other human rights protections.”

Ramaphosa said in the SONA that for South Africa’s social compact to be effective it must “include every South African and every part of our society.”

Iranti believes, however, that the exclusion of LGBTIQ issues by “the highest office in the land, trickles down throughout the government and we see it manifest in critical exclusions such as Census 2022 failing to enumerate transgender, intersex and nonbinary persons.”

lranti expressed hope for “a time when our head of state engages publicly with the issues faced by LGBTIQ persons”, adding that “until such a time, the LGBTIQ community remains left behind.”

Below is just some of the content created by Iranti as part of its #QueerSONA campaign.

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