Durban LGBT+ voices: KZN needs to do more in promoting acceptance and safety


Keeping The Promise To LGBT+ People. This was this year’s theme for the eighth annual Durban Pride that took place on June 30, the last day of international Pride Month. With reports on LGBT+ violence and killings emerging on a regular basis, Mambaonline spoke to pride attendees to find out what challenges they are faced with and what promises they want the city to keep.

Tumi Dumisa, 21, bisexual, Durban
The LGBT+ community here faces  challenges of acceptance, tolerance and safety. It’s a big thing and quite shocking that so many deaths and assaults are happening but nothing is being done about it. We need acceptance from our families and communities, because lack of acceptance affects a lot of people from the [LGBT+] community, which results in many hurting or even killing themselves. The city’s municipality needs to do more for LGBT+ people, they are also citizens here.

Last year, the Institute of Race Relations found that KwaZulu-Natal was the second most hostile province in the country towards LGBT+ people after the Eastern Cape. The LGBT+ community in the province was at high risk of being exposed to physical and verbal assault from their relatives and were also targets of sexual abuse and or rape.

David Richardson, 22, gay, Durban
There is a high lack of representation of queer people of colour, both here [in the province] and throughout the country. White gay men are not the only queer people, and I’m not sorry for saying that. We [also] need to do more with transgender and bisexual awareness for instance. We really need to focus on everyone more than we do on white gay people.

Research shows that the risk of being a black LGBT person living in a township is much higher compared to living in suburban areas. Four out of 10 South Africans know someone who has been murdered for being suspected of being gay, lesbian or transgender.

As for the promises that the city of Durban needs to keep to its LGBT+ citizens, recommendations included doing more to educate communities about the diversity and the value of our marginalised group.

Mampeli Mothepu, 23, straight, Westville
As an LGBT+ ally, I really think more needs to be done in educating people to rid themselves of the stereotypical view that they have on the community. We can see that society does not want to understand, but there is no effective intervention from authorities whatsoever, and that is confusing because you’d expect them to ensure that the LGBT+ community feels just as safe and free as straight people. We clearly need more effective laws on the safety of the LGBT+ community. There are too many attacks and murders happening out there and it’s very clear that the structures we have in place are not effective enough.

Last year, a man who was arrested for raping and beating up a 17-year-old woman who identified as lesbian was granted bail, leaving the province’s LGBT+ community in shock and more fear.

Bheka Khanyile, 23, gay, Umlazi
We want the province to do more in ensuring that we are accepted. Yes, although they preach about it, we are still not accepted as much as we would like to be, and the lack of acceptance also comes from the political side. It’s been over 20 years since we have entered democracy, [yet] so many people are living in peace compared to us. So when are we going to be able to walk around without the fear of being attacked because of what I am wearing or how I speak or even who I choose to associate myself with?

The city of Durban does indeed not appear to offer visible support for its LGBT+ community. Last month, The Durban City Hall forced DA Councillor, Martin Meyer, to take down an LGBT+ rainbow flag. The Municipality also refused to pass a motion expressing support for Pride. In 2017, the KwaZulu Natal MEC for Health’s wife, Nono Dhlomo, said gay people were possessed at a conference in Cato Manor.

Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity.

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