'Gay vote' seems up for grabs

2004-03-31 21:56

Cape Town - Democratic Alliance chief whip Douglas Gibson on Wednesday disagreed with one of his MPs when he contended that the DA was not actively campaigning for the lesbian and gay vote in the April elections.

Gibson and gay MP Mike Waters were responding to a statement from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GLA), who tout themselves as the Independent Electoral Commission-registered lesbian and gay political voice of South Africa.

"It is a fallacy that there is, in reality, a gay vote... gay South Africans are citizens, are voters right across the political spectrum," said Gibson.

He said the DA was not "targeting" the gay vote, but was canvassing across all fronts.

Gibson said the DA had no coalition or alliance with the GLA, or with any other party except the Inkatha Freedom Party and the Federal Alliance.

Have openly gay candidates

"There is no definite relationship with the GLA and the DA," he said, adding that as far as he was concerned the DA was a registered political party while the GLA was representative of a group.

"All South Africans are equal... (and we welcome) the support of as many voters as we can persuade," he said.

Meanwhile, Waters, an MP speaking on HIV/Aids and children issues, said the DA was "actively campaigning" among the lesbian and gay communities.

"We have openly gay candidates, such as myself," he said, adding that the DA was canvassing among everybody, and supported equal rights for gays and lesbian.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the GLA said they supported the DA's Western Cape's leader in labelling F W de Klerk as an "apartheid president". This is not the first time the GLA has come out in support of the DA.

They said De Klerk was sworn in as South African president on a racist and homophobic ticket, in the colours of the then-National Party.

Asking voters to support the DA, the GLA said the NNP track record was stained with discrimination and empty promises, as was evident when they joined the African National Congress.