Patriotic Alliance sets up LGBTQIA+ league – homophobes will need to find a new political home
The Patriotic Alliance’s LGBTQIA+ league says all members should be respected regardless of their sexual orientation or religion. This comes as the party known for its slogan ‘Put God First’ launched its LGBTQIA+ league, which will form part of the party’s National Executive Committee.
The Patriotic Alliance (PA) says the formalisation of a league dedicated to party members who form part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex and asexual plus community was to ensure the party reflected the principles of the Constitution of South Africa.
The league was formalised during the PA’s policy conference at the end of March and will sit on the party’s National Executive Committee. Currently, the league is in the process of completing its figures for members across all structures, including at ward and regional level, said Meredith Bowkers, the league’s national secretary.
Bowkers told Daily Maverick that the moment the decision was announced was a “magical moment” for the party’s LGBTQIA+ leaders. “We are not just acknowledged within the party, but we have a seat at the table where critical decisions are made about the future of the party and the inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ leaders in doing so,” she said. The league said they were “humbled” by support from party leaders, including party president Gayton McKenzie and deputy president Kenny Kunene.
In his support of the league, McKenzie said: “the LGBTQIA+ community is us, they are part of the PA”. McKenzie said if members of the party did not accept this, they must go.
The party is known for its stance on religion, with its slogan of “Put God First”. But how will the league react to religious leaders who don’t recognise their sexual orientation?
“Our President has made it clear that our party does not discriminate against race, religion, and sexual orientation… it is imperative for our religious leaders to know our firm stance,” said Bowkers. “Our religious leaders form a very critical part of our party’s vision and mission as we put God first in everything we do… all patriots should be respected regardless of their religious beliefs or sexual orientation,” she added.
Another of the party’s slogans is “Put South Africans First”, calling for the deportation of immigrants. However, South Africa is a place where members of the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly Africans, seek refuge from their country’s persecution and discrimination.
The People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) said they have already received calls from members of the LGBTQIA+ community in Uganda who are seeking a haven as the country seeks to ban same-sex sexual activities which can include jail time and the death penalty for sexually active members of the community.
When asked about how the PA reconciles these issues, Bowkers said the party’s stance on foreigners “often gets misconstrued by the media”. The party said foreigners must leave the country if they are in the country illegally, she said.
“Engagements on how to assist immigrants who seek refuge as a result of sexual discrimination within their countries should occur to determine how we as a country will deal with such,” she added.
“We welcome any intentional capacity strengthening initiatives and supportive networks to advance the civil, political, and electoral participation of LGBTQIA+ people in local and national decision-making processes, said Bayanda Ndumiso, the political advocacy coordinator at the Triangle Project.
“Political parties need to continue to recognise intersectional connections and coalitions with other social and economic justice movements around political and electoral advocacy, participation, and inclusions,” said Ndumiso.
While it was not Triangle Project’s duty to endorse the party politics of any political party, Ndumiso said their “interest remains in the interest of those who want to learn, unlearn, and relearn through our political advocacy training for political parties, politicians, and members of parliament”.
Oudtshoorn councillor Suzanne Jansen is the league’s political convenor. Other leaders in the league’s national structure include Chaz Warries (chairperson), Desmond Anthony (deputy chairperson), Bowkers, Riaan Brown (deputy secretary), Charlene Roux (treasurer), Elzaan Petersen (youth leader), Shantasha Govender (organiser) and Gretchen Sudenie (legal and council). DM