News / Africa

    Challenges Remain for LGBT in South Africa

    A woman holds her hands up during the Durban Pride parade where several hundred people marched through the city center in support of gay rights, July 30, 2011 file photo.
    A woman holds her hands up during the Durban Pride parade where several hundred people marched through the city center in support of gay rights, July 30, 2011 file photo.
    A few weeks ago, the first traditional Zulu gay wedding ceremony was held in South Africa.  The country has one of the most liberal legal frameworks regarding gay rights and protections.  Because of this, South Africa has become a land of exile for many African gays persecuted in their home countries.  But even here, challenges remain as anti-gay attacks still happen. 

    Tiwonge Chimbalanga greets people as she walks proudly in the street of her neighborhood near Cape Town.  Everybody knows her around here.  In 2009, while still living in her native Malawi, Tiwonge, who is a transexual woman, was sentenced to 14 years of prison for having held a traditional engagement ceremony with her then-fiance.  Homosexuality is illegal in Malawi, like in 37 other countries in Africa.

    So with the help of Amnesty International and the South African NGO Gender Dynamix, she decided to go into exile in South Africa in 2011, she recalls.

    Tiwonge says that when she was in Malawi, she thought of South Africa as being a free place for gays.  So when she got here, the one thing that she expected was freedom.

    In South Africa, not only is homosexuality allowed, but lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders (LGBT) also have had the right to marry and adopt children for years.  To this day, it is still the only country in Africa to allow such freedoms.

    But everything is not perfect in the rainbow nation.  In fact, attacks against LGBT still happen on a regular basis.  Tiwonge agrees she continues to face challenges.

    Tiwonge says about four months after she arrived she was attacked and beaten up, with her money and her passport stolen.  And recently, she was stabbed in the back by some Malawan people.

    Her new next-door neighbor, who is from DRC, was kicked out of his apartment and was beaten up when his landlord realized his tenant was gay.

    Discrepancies between the legislation and the reality within South African society can be explained by the context in which the current South African constitution was drafted, says Noel Kututwa, Southern Africa director for Amnesty International.

    After the white-minority rule ended in the 90s and Nelson Mandela's party took power, a new constitution was drafted with a core focus on equality for everyone, with no exception.

    "And as part of the fight for freedom, justice and equality that South Africa went through, the African National Congress, then led by former president Nelson Mandela, was anchored around human rights," said Kututwa.

    Kututwa says South Africa's LGBT community was included in that concept of human rights, or rather, was not excluded.  The debate about their rights came later on, when the constitution was already adopted.

    "At the time that it was adopted, it was really futuristic," said Kututwa. "It was even going beyond what even the country was even ready for at that time.  And that [became] quite clear when one looks at gay and lesbian rights, that it is a contentious issue.  There are certain sections of the society with the South African society who don't accept those rights."

    Tiwonge is now an activist.  She volunteers in an NGO which helps LGBT who apply for exile in South Africa and is in contact with the gay community in Malawi to push LGBT rights forward in her native home country.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora