The City of uMhlathuze has taken a gigantic step to educate its Councillors, forum leaders and community leaders on LGBTI PLUS (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex PLUS) integration with communities.
This initiative is aimed at creating strong awareness on community leaders about issues of gays and lesbians after noticing negative incidents targeting LGBTI community members across the country. The sensitization workshop was conducted by Anova Health NGO and LGBTI leaders and attended by City Councillors, Management and leaders from the city forum such as Traditional leaders, Traditional Health Practitioners, Religious Leaders, Man’s forum, Reed Dance Matrons forum and others as well as government department (DSD, DOH, DOE, NPA, SAPS). The workshop was coordinated by the Local Aids Council which is led by the Mayor Cllr Mduduzi Mhlongo.
The City of uMhlathuze has not recorder any major incidents targeting gays and lesbian communities except for few cases of family and community unacceptance for gays and lesbians. The initiative then is to prevent such even before it happens in the City with mixed communities, i.e. urban, rural and mixed races and religious beliefs.
Council Speaker Cllr Silondile Mkhize stressed the issue of human rights to all members of the community as prescribed in the Freedom Charter. “We say no to any form of discrimination to anyone because we want to achieve proper integration for our communities. I don’t even want to refer to a certain group of people as LGBTI because that’s a classification we should not be having, rather being referred to as one community. We are all equal and we all have the same human rights as enshrined in the Constitution. By this initiative we want to deal with stigmatisation of any form and educate our communities on how to live side by side with gays and lesbians,” Mkhize said.
Local Aids Council also picked up few health issues that the government institutions should also consider such as exclusive loos and also considers putting lubricants in the condom containers.
The workshop also focused on different kinds of gender lifestyles of LGBTI+ community members and how they should be addressed, accepted and how they should behave in professional, business and corporate places.
The issue of hatred, victimisation, unacceptance, corrective rape to mainly lesbians and insults all hailed at LGBTI+ members, was also highlighted as a major challenge in many communities.
The progressive City of uMhlathuze has embraced all members including Councillor who are open about their lifestyles in its Council Chambers.
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