South Africa: New gay rights party to stand for elections

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A new gay rights political party is to stand in this year’s South African elections against the discrimination and persecution of gay and lesbian people in the country.

According to AFP, the Equal Rights Party is standing to defend the rights of LGBT people against violent incidents such as “corrective rape” and torture.

Party member Michael Herbst said on Saturday: “We need a voice in parliament to protect women from being raped because people want to cure them from being lesbians.

“We need someone in parliament when boys are bullied at school because they are thought to be gay.”

Mr Herbst, a retired professor of health studies at the University of South Africa, added: “South Africa has one of the most beautiful constitutions that guarantees the rights of the people who are lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, et cetera. But in reality, it doesn’t work well.”

He also said the party would provide a platform for speaking out against violations of gay rights in other African countries such as Nigeria and Uganda, and also in countries such as Russia.

The South African National Assembly is made up of 400 seats awarded to each party based on the number of votes received.

“We can definitively make it,” Mr Herbst said when asked what his party’s chances were like in the upcoming elections.

South Africa’s landmark constitution, famously signed by Nelson Mandela 17 years ago, outlaws discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation.

Yet in practice, victim say it offers little protection unless its provisions are actually enforced by the authorities.

Earlier this month, campaigners warned that “corrective rape” attacks by men against lesbians in South Africa are continuing to increase.

In October, a man was charged with the murder of Duduzile Zozo.

The 26-year-old’s body was found near her home in Thokoza on Gauteng’s East Rand, east of Johannesburg, on Sunday 30 June.

She had been sexually assaulted with a toilet brush and died from internal injuries.