South African headteachers told to give government a list of gay and lesbian pupils

(Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa handing over a Cyber Lab at Zanokuhle Secondary School). Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa during Public Employment Programme Inter-Ministerial Committee visit in Whittlesea, Eastern Cape. South Africa. 09/06/2017. Siyabulela Duda

Headteachers in South Africa have been told to send the names of all their LGBT+ students to the government.

Schools in the Eastern Cape province, which is home to six million people, received an email on October 16 from the department’s special programmes unit (SPU) which told them to hand over the names of their queer pupils by the end of the day, according to City News.

The message stated that the SPU head office would be “conducting a workshop to raise awareness on the rights of the LGBTI community and to ensure that their lives, morals and integrity are respected.”

“You are therefore kindly requested to forward names of learners in your school that belongs to this community” (Pexels)

“You are therefore kindly requested to forward names of learners in your school that belongs to this community by end of business today [October 16],” it continued.

“This will allow the district office to have a database of these learners and 10 of these learners will be attending the scheduled workshop.”

Edmund van Vuuren, the education spokesperson for the country’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, wrote a letter to the SPU head condemning the email. The department subsequently said queer students no longer had to attend the workshop “due to exams.”

Pupils study at a school in Durban (inanda seminary/facebook)

In his letter, van Vuuren wrote that identifying LGBT+ students was “discriminatory, unconstitutional and may lead to verbal, mental and even physical abuse.”

He said that “in a climate where ‘corrective rape’ and assault based on sexual preference are commonplace, we cannot afford to expose members of this community to further risk and discrimination.”

Eastern Cape Department of Education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima has denied that the department is creating a list of LGBT+ pupils, adding that the email was sent without permission.

“There is no activity or instruction to district coordinators to create a database for the LGBTI group,” said Mtima.

The department spokesperson denied that it was creating a list of LGBT+ pupils (Pexels)

“The alleged email purporting to be coming from the head office has not been sanctioned by those concerned and the SPU office.”

Mtima added that the department had “started an internal investigation and is working hard to get the source of this email, which distorted the activities and objectives of the department’s programmes.”

In August, a South African private Christian boarding school in Durban, in the southeast province of KwaZulu-Natal, expelled two girls after seminary officials said they were caught kissing for 20 minutes.

Members of the South African Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community chant slogans as they take part in the annual Gay Pride Parade, as part of the three-day Durban Pride Festival, on June 30, 2018 in Durban. (Photo by RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP) (Photo credit should read RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP/Getty Images)

The 2018 Pride parade in Durban (RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP/Getty)

Late last year, married lesbian couple Joey and Anisha van Niekerk were kidnapped, tortured, raped and murdered.

And in July, a South African lesbian used Twitter to reveal that she was raped at the age of 15 by her father and uncle in a horrific example of ‘corrective’ rape.