Steenhuisen challenges Ramaphosa to fight for LGBT+ rights in Africa as AU chair

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen shortly before addressing the Parliamentary Press Gallery Association.
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen shortly before addressing the Parliamentary Press Gallery Association.
Jan Gerber, News24

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen has challenged President Cyril Ramaphosa to utilise his position as African Union (AU) chair to fight for the rights of the LGBT+ community throughout the African continent.

Steenhuisen spoke at the 2020 Cape Town Pride festival on Saturday and said it was fitting that it was called "Pride". He added that a quarter of a century ago the gathering would have been illegal.

"There is every reason to be proud because what we see here today is the culmination of a generation's selfless struggle for equality and dignity. We have come so far over the past two decades," Steenhuisen said.

READ | 10 men jailed in Mauritania over 'gay party' video

He said although the country had come a long way in fighting discrimination against members of the LGBTQI community, a lot more needed to be done to educate other African countries with repressive laws against same-sex relationships.

Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa owes it to fellow Africans to stand up and defend their freedom on the continent's biggest stage, the AU.

"Make it clear that an attack on a member of the LGBTQI community in Kampala or Dar es Salaam or Mogadishu is as unacceptable as an attack here at home. Make your term as chair of the AU count, and push hard for the rights of all Africans to be whoever they want to be, and to love whoever they want.

"If you want to make your mark as the head of the AU this year, President Ramaphosa, fighting for the equality and dignity of all Africans would be a source of great pride," Steenhuisen said.

Tutu award

Meanwhile, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu received a Lifetime Achievement Award for services to the LGBTQI community from Outreach Africa, the organisers of Cape Town Pride 2020.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde accepted the award on Tutu's behalf.

"The Archbishop sends his love and blessings to all associated with Cape Town Pride 2020. He said I should thank you for honouring 'a decrepit', and apologised for being unable to be with you in person today."

In a statement, the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said Tutu does not just hate prejudice philosophically, but has also dedicated his life to practically supporting those who are discriminated against, victimised and marginalised.

"He has the courage to say things in ways that others might not. There are no holy grails. Thus, with crystal clarity, we know that he would not worship a homophobic God and that if there is homophobia in heaven, he'd rather go to hell," the foundation said.

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