The Gay & Lesbian Alliance (GLA) of South Africa: dancing out of tune
April 28, 2005
We, the organisations listed below, hereby wish to make the following joint statement regarding the so-called Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GLA), and with respect to their statement on lesbian and gay matric students.
The issue of sexual orientation within the context of the school system in South Africa should be viewed in a two-fold manner.
Firstly, the process of acknowledging and disclosing one's sexual orientation is highly personal and has a variety of attendant psychological, emotional and social considerations; especially for under-aged individuals who may be ill-equipped to deal with this aspect of their sexuality. Many young people are still living with parents or caregivers, and are beholden to them financially as well as emotionally.
To be forced to disclose one's sexual orientation, or "outed", for the first time at a public event, such as a matric dance, when one is vulnerable to the actions of peers and guardians is highly problematic. Structures must be in place to ensure that individuals have the necessary financial, legal and counseling support should they be rejected by their peers or parents because of their disclosure, the incidence of which is particularly prevalent in conservative communities.
The second aspect concerns lesbian and gay youth who have perhaps gone through a process of disclosure to their family and friends with regard to their sexual orientation, and as a consequence feel comfortable about their sexuality. Should they, of their own volition, wish their same sex partners to accompany them to a matric dance; it would be their right to do so. Should they face discrimination, either from the school's authorities, or harassment from their peers, this can then be addressed within the provisions of the law and within the broader ambit of South Africa's Constitutional guarantees of equality and dignity.
We believe that organisations who advocate for LGBT people to publicly disclose their sexual orientation have a responsibility to ensure that the necessary support structures are available, should the consequences of this disclosure negatively affect the well being of LGBT individuals.
As bone fide members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) sector, as well as allies and partners, we operate within a human rights context with the objective of achieving full social and legal equality for LGBT people in South Africa. As organisations that operate within the LGBT sector we advocate, lobby, litigate, and provide communities with information and education on various issues affecting our sector. We work in partnership with other sectors of society which include the gender, youth, HIV/AIDS and children's rights lobby movements; the health, faith and political sectors; and other role-players.
Within the context of our operations we strongly reject the agenda behind the Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GLA) and formally distance ourselves from the tactics they advocate such as the use of force, threats, blacklisting organisations and individuals, as well as violence, as tools for progressive change in society.
This "homosexual" party, as it refers to itself, has no proven track record of accurately representing the interests of LGBT people in South Africa. It has no record of political struggle for equality for all in South Africa but attempts to benefit from the reputation gained by the LGBT sector.
What appears to be a one-person outfit, could cause considerable damage through claiming to speak on behalf of lesbian and gay people when they speak on issues whose consequences have been. As such we question the motives behind their statements which historically have served to undermine lesbian and gay equality. Many of the GLA's policies and ideologies are reactionary and incompatible with those of legitimate lesbian and gay movements and organisations in South Africa and around the world.
Furthermore we are not convinced that the GLA represents any notable constituency nor is it considered credible among registered LGBT non-profit organisations or the broader community. We strongly dispute the GLA's clearly unrealistic claim to have a membership of over 150 000 people. This is a claim that, to date, has not been substantiated by any evidence. We disassociate ourselves from any statements and actions by the GLA and we absolutely dispute that the GLA is "the political voice of lesbigay South Africa."
To further substantiate this position, the cancellation of the registration of the GLA with the Electoral Commission (IEC) as a political party was published in the Government Gazette No 27276 of 9 February 2005. According to the Independent Electoral Commission website, there is no registered party called the One Nation Congress, to whom the GLA now claim to be affiliated.
We call on all sectors of society who, like us, reject intimidation and violence in the fight for non-discrimination, justice and equality for all, to join us in fundamentally dismissing bodies like the GLA, and denouncing its motives and tactics. – Released by the following organisations:
Behind the Mask – Johannesburg Tel: 011403 5566
Durban Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre – Durban Tel: 031 3012145
EXIT Newspaper – Johannesburg Tel : 011 622 2275
Forum for the Empowerment of Women – Johannesburg Tel: 011 6421132
Gay and Lesbian Archives (GALA) – Johannesburg Tel: 011 7174239
Gay Pages – Johannesburg Tel: 0827770830
Gay Sports South Africa – Johannesburg Tel: 0829268233
GMAX – Johannesburg Tel: 011 4420087
Lesbian and Gay Equality Project – Johannesburg Tel: 0114873810/1/2
Mambaonline – Johannesburg Tel: 082-234-4040
OUT LGBT Well-being – Pretoria Tel: 012 3446501
Tuesday Night – non-stereo type radio - Johannesburg Tel: 082 572 3413
TOGS – Johannesburg Tel: 011 477 6328
Triangle Project – Cape Town Tel: 021 4483812
UNISA Centre for Applied Psychology – Pretoria 012 4298089/8544
Wrapped Magazine – Johannesburg Tel: 011 704 4800
We ARE queer! [05/04/2004]