Martin Meyer Becomes First Out LGBTIQ+ MEC in KZN

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Martin Meyer was sworn in as the first-ever openly LGBTIQ+ MEC in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday

The DA’s Martin Meyer has been appointed as the first-ever openly LGBTIQ+ MEC in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), becoming the MEC for Public Works and Infrastructure.

Members of the Executive Council (MECs) are selected by the province’s premier and act as ministers in the provincial cabinet.

Wearing a rainbow tie for the occasion, Meyer was sworn in on Tuesday in Pietermaritzburg as part of a Government of Provincial Unity. 

Pride and Responsibility

Meyer told MambaOnline that his appointment was a significant symbolic step for the LGBTIQ+ community in the province, one that’s often perceived as espousing more conservative, patriarchal and traditional values.

“Wearing my Pride tie and being called on stage and announced as an MEC during Pride Month gave me a special feeling of pride and responsibility,” said Meyer. “I thought of the giants who came before me – those brave LGBTIQ+ activists who fought against discrimination from the National Party government and ensured that our rights are enshrined in the Constitution.

“I also couldn’t help but think of all those people, men and women, killed, even now, in our province, purely because of who they are and who they love. I stood on that stage because of them, but also for them. I was awed into silence by the weight of it, but also overjoyed that our country is one where people like me can be elected to office,” expressed Meyer.

He explained that as MEC for Public Works and Infrastructure, he would work to ensure that these spaces are inclusive for all, including the LGBTIQ+ community.

Meyer added: “We have a great ally in the province in the Speaker, Honourable Boyce, and the Deputy Speaker, Hon Tembe, and great young queer members in the legislature like Hon. Mngadi. I will engage with them on how we can bring provincial government closer to the queer community in our province, ensuring a province that works for all!”

Advocating for Inclusivity and Visibility

Meyer has a long history of vocally advocating for LGBTIQ+ rights and inclusion in KwaZulu-Natal, first as a councillor and then as a Member of the Provincial Legislature (MPL). In 2014, he faced homophobic heckling from other councillors when he expressed support for Durban Pride in the Ethekwini Metro Council.

Over the years, Meyer fought diligently to introduce motions in the EThekwini Municipality for the council to affirm its support for the LGBTIQ+ community, as well as motions to recognise Pride Month. These efforts were repeatedly rejected by the Speaker until 2018, the first time any type of LGBTI motion was passed by the council.

In 2018, Meyer flew the LGBTIQ+ Pride flag outside Durban City Hall during Pride Month, but the municipality blocked him by pulling the flag down.

In 2021, as an MP, Meyer delivered a speech in the KZN Legislature speaking out against the murders of several queer individuals in the province. He urged leaders in the legislature and in councils to meet with their LGBTIQ+ constituents and speak out against discrimination and hate.

 

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