16 Days of Activism: The rights of the LGBT community

16 Days of Activism: The rights of the LGBT community

LGBT refers collectively to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or intersex - another vulnerable community that Newswatch has placed in the limelight during the 16 Days of Activism Campaign. In today's feature, Newswatch has spoken to the Durban Lesbian and Gay Community & Health Centre for insights into some of the challenges this community still faces in 2016. 

LGBTI rights march
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The Equality Clause in the Constitution - Section 9(1) - supports the protection of all individuals. The clause states "Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law". South Africa has come a long way in supporting LGBTI rights with being the fifth country in the world, and the first in Africa to legalise same-sex marriage.

The Durban Lesbian and Gay Community & Health Centre primarily started as a drop-in and safe space for Durban residents but also reaching out to the greater KZN. Nonhlanhla Mkhize explains the context within which the organisation was founded. 

The centre's website elaborates on what it has grown to do - 

- The centre provides personal, HIV and AIDS counselling and referrals for legal advice. 

- A clinic that provides HIV Counselling and Testing, STI and TB screening and treatment referrals. 

- They work with human rights education on rights and responsibility, gender and sexuality, fighting discrimination of LGBT youth in schools, and 'hate crimes' primarily against LGBT people. 

ALSO READ: Top breakthroughs in HIV/AIDs prevention in SA

- The centre houses a research library and resource centre on LGBT, women, youth, children, sex and sexuality, sexual health, human rights, reproductive rights, social, political, health, disability, and many other aspects of communities. 

- The centre runs a Social & Political Programme which entails development seminars, movie screenings, interest and support groups.

- The team also works with KZN Gay and Lesbian Tourism Association, hosts LGBTI events and shows such Durban Pride, and the KZN LGBTI Activism Awards to mention a few. 

Acknowledging the progress made to protect the rights of the LGBT society, Mkhize says the first ten years post-democracy saw the gradual decriminalisation of the concept of sexual relations between two people of the same gender. She says there are challenges that still exist today - such as domestic violence and hate crimes. 

ALSO READ: 16 Days of Activism: Encourage kids to speak out, says Childline SA

"We are finding ourselves having to fight violence against us and within our own relationships as gays, lesbians, transgender and intersex people. Also, a lot of us are finding ourselves being beaten up and brutally murdered just because of who we are and who we are dating. In families, you're finding a lot of us committing suicide because of not being accepted while others become homeless because of being rendered as outcasts in our families," she says.

Mkhize has shared this message during the 16-day campaign - 

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