South Africa is no doubt a leader in the African continent when it comes to the fight for LGBTQ+ rights by way of marriage equality and legal protection against discrimination. However, there is a huge disparity between written policies and actual lived experiences as the general feeling is that legal protection preceded public acceptance. This is why to this day the queer community still face discrimination, misconceptions and violence in many different forms.
Legality vs perception
A survey of attitudes towards homosexuality & gender non-conformity in South Africa indicated that 51% believe that gay people should have the same human rights, but 72% believe that same-sex activity is “morally wrong”. This is a scary statistic to say the least. There is clearly still a lot of work to be done. This is why an organisation such as Ella Global Community is very important to contributing towards the survival and flourishing of our LGBTQ+ communities, because in visibilising and empowering, they offer opportunities to educate and change mindsets of the masses.
Despite the hardships that LGBTQ+ persons experience in South Africa, there have been massive strides and victories that have been made possible by highly active and dedicated civil society organizations and movements – from grassroots to those working in higher level programming, both equally important in fighting for and effecting the change that we need to see. The freedoms that our communities enjoy today are all thanks to these change makers.
ELLA in South Africa
I am originally from Botswana, a neighbouring country to South Africa. Since living in South Africa (from 2016) I have experienced so much more diversity within the LGBTQ+ communities. The legal protections (despite all the shortcomings outlined earlier) that are in place allow for a freer community, free to express their identities in all their rainbow glory. Organisations offering queer centric services, from advocacy to business, to health as well as entertainment, are many and are making an impact to the socio-economic wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community.
The fear for loss lives or some form of discrimination and violence is a daily reality, as we live in a country where gender-based violence has often been referred to as “a second pandemic” (second to Covid19). This, more than ever, is evidence that our work is far from over.
A colleague of mine was approached by Ella to be one of the speakers at the Ella Talks that were set to take place in Mallorca in 2020. This is how my exciting journey with the Ella Global Community started, when Ella expressed a need for a representative in South Africa and I was recommended. The idea of being part of a global community of amazing queer activists, fighting for the visibility and empowerment of queer womxn, as well as social change is not only exciting but also aligned to my politics as a queer womxn and feminist.
How could I say no? The work of being Community Manager was not only fun and exciting but served as a learning experience as well. I have so far learned quite a lot about the contexts of queer womxn globally, but mostly, I have been able to connect with movements and queer communities right here in South Africa.
Being part of the Ella Global Community compliments well and is an extension of my work as a queer activist. It provides a yet another platform and opportunity to contribute towards alleviating the social and economic challenges that set our community’s progress back.
AUTOR: KHUMO KETSHABILE
Khumo is a queer feminist activist and womxn human rights defender. She is social entrepreneur whose background is in the ICT field. Some of her other passions include travelling and cooking, she hopes to one day extend her scope of her (social) entrepreneurial activities to the culinary arts.