LGBTIQ+ Activist Steve Letsike Takes on Deputy Minister Role


Out and proud: Steve Letsike is known for her activism for LGBTIQ+ and women’s rights

In another milestone for South Africa’s LGBTIQ+ community, internationally recognised activist Mmapaseka Steve Letsike has been appointed Deputy Minister of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the news when he revealed his government of national unity executive on Sunday night, a fitting way to conclude International Pride Month.

“The incoming government will prioritise rapid, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and the creation of a more just society by tackling poverty and inequality,” Ramaphosa told the country from the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Letsike’s new role is well-suited considering her long career as an activist dedicated to advancing the rights and well-being of the LGBTIQ+ community, women, and girls.

Sworn in as an MP last month, Letsike is now the most high-profile out LGBTIQ+ member of government in South Africa’s seventh democratic government.

She is not the first openly LGBTIQ+ member of the executive in South Africa; that was Lynne Brown, who served as Minister of Public Enterprises from 2014 to 2019.

However, Letsike is undoubtedly the most visible and vocal member of the LGBTIQ+ community to be appointed to a similar position in government.

“Her appointment as Deputy Minister is a testament to her expertise, passion, and commitment to public service,” said Access Chapter 2 (AC2), the organisation that Letsike founded, in a statement.

“We have no doubt that she will bring the same level of dedication and innovation to her new role, and we are excited to see the positive impact she will have on policy-making and decision-making at the highest levels of government,” added AC2’s spokesperson, Clement Mampane.

The Forum for the Empowerment for Women (FEW) also congratulated Letsike on her appointment.

“In this critical role, you will be entrusted with championing the rights, well-being, and empowerment of some of the most vulnerable members of our society. We are confident that your steadfast commitment to equity, inclusion, and social justice will guide you in this endeavour,” said FEW in a statement.

Letsike has also served as the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Equality Network, Co-chair of the South African AIDS Council (SANAC), and the National Task Team addressing LGBTIQ+ hate crimes.

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