“We are harassed and oppressed by the same people who are preaching God,” founder of non governmental organisation (NGO) Lulekisizwe, Ndumie Funda has said. She lambasted parents who kick their children out of their homes when they find out that they are gays or lesbians.
Funda was commenting during a dialogue hosted by the leaders of Langa United Congregation Church of Southern Africa Youth Adults (UCCSAYA) in Gugulethu on Sunday 19 September.
The open dialogue was held at the church to discuss, among others, gender based violence (GBV) and discrimination against members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+) community at churches.
Several organisations including Ilitha Labantu and Lulekisizwe attended the event.
Wendy Senosi, from UCCSAYA, described the gathering as a special event aimed at enlightening the congregants about some social issues.
She challenged church leaders to familiarise themselves with global trends and adapt accordingly.
Senosi said they believe that members of LGBTQI+ community are marginalised in the church. “We are appealing to churches to stop judging people based on their gender or sexuality. Churches need to play their role which is to unite the society,” she said. She said it is a shame to see church leaders in the media accused of GBV.
A pumped up Funda described the gathering as helpful and educational. She said the majority of their members are marginalised in the society.
Lulekisizwe is dedicated to fighting for the rights of LGBTQI+ community and GBV. “Women in church uniform used to be highly respected in the community. But now they become some of the perpetrators,” she said. “The same women who chase away their children when they find out they are gays or lesbians are attending the church. The same teacher who doesn’t like a child because she is a lesbian is also attending the church. We are not welcomed in society. We are harassed and oppressed by the same people who are preaching God”.
Funda said they want to be treated with respect and as human beings.
Bishop Zama Mfihlo, leader of the Apostolic Amen Church of Zion in Gugulethu, said it is important for society to respect each other’s rights. He urged other church leaders to accommodate everyone in their churches.
“Churches must stop judging people based on their sexuality, gender or colour. The same people we are calling by names are our brothers and sisters. We are one in front of God,” said Mfihlo.
He called for an end to GBV and discrimination. “We’ve been having awareness and campaigns against GBV and discrimination every day, but we see that the same people who are part of these campaigns are harassing and abusing their partners at home,” he stated.
Mfihlo said one of the fundamental principles of the church is to instil discipline in community at large, not the other way around.