Democratic Alliance's new interim leader, John Steenhuisen. Picture: VELI NHLAPO
Democratic Alliance's new interim leader, John Steenhuisen. Picture: VELI NHLAPO

DA leader John Steenhuisen on Saturday urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to use his term as chair of the African Union to fight for LGBTQI rights throughout Africa.

Speaking at the Cape Town Pride Festival‚ Steenhuisen said while much had been achieved in the fight against discrimination‚ people were still being persecuted and prosecuted in some countries for simply being who they were.

In many African countries‚ being gay was enough to get one thrown in jail‚ or worse‚ he said.

“Countries like Nigeria‚ Tanzania‚ Sudan‚ Malawi and Kenya have extremely repressive laws when it comes to same-sex relationships. In places like Uganda‚ Mauritania and Somalia this is even punishable by death. We cannot simply be satisfied with our own society’s liberation. We owe it to the people of these countries to help fight for the same freedoms we now take for granted.

“We certainly cannot do as Deputy President [David] Mabuza suggests and ‘be decent enough to keep our mouth shut’ when it comes to the inhumane treatment of the LGBTQI communities elsewhere in Africa‚” Steenhuisen said.

With Ramaphosa assuming the position of chair of the AU‚ there had never been a better opportunity to put the plight of the LGBTQI community in Africa on the agenda‚ he added.

“Just as President Ramaphosa owes it to South Africans this year to show courage and backbone in defending our economy from the enemies of growth‚ he owes it to our fellow Africans to stand up for them and defend their freedom on the continent’s biggest stage.

“So the challenge is clear‚ Mr President: Show the world that you do not share your deputy president’s backwards views on looking the other way when it comes to human rights abuses. 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 whomever they want to be‚ and to love whomever they want‚” Steenhuisen said.

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