Are South African LGBTQI+ Women Celebrated Enough During Women’s Month?

Are South African LGBTQI+ Women Celebrated Enough During Women’s Month?

Women’s Day is meant to honour and celebrate the triumphs and victories of women in the country. However, for members of the LGBTI+ community who face added forms of discrimination and violence in their daily lives, Women’s Day is a painful reminder of how much more needs to be done to honour all women in the country.

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South Africans are encouraged to celebrate all women, including members of the LGBTI+ community, during Women's Day. Image: Stock image
Source: Getty Images

During an exclusive interview with Briefly News, LGBTI+ activist Kim Lithgow highlighted some of the challenges that women from the community face. She said aside from facing discrimination as a woman, LGBTI+ women are met with added forms of stigma and bias in communities, schools, and the workplace.

“We need to get to a place where we can recognise that all women should feel the same protection from the police and communities, especially when they are victims of gender-based violence. It’s like a double-edged sword, they get discriminated against in because the people around them are not educated they don’t have enough information. We’ve got to come to a place of inclusion where everybody is included,” said Lithgow.

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When asked if transwomen are celebrated adequately during Women’s month, the activist said there isn’t much visibility. She said transwomen should be given the same exposure as cisgender women.

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“We recognise that cisgender women play a huge role in society, families, and communities. But it is the same with transwomen, they are also parents, have careers and play a huge role in communities. We need to celebrate transgender women as well and recognise their contributions,” she said.

Lithgow noted that often the struggles or accomplishments of transwomen are not given enough exposure simply because of their identity.

“Society fails to appreciate the contributions that they bring to the table yeah like it’s taken away from them just because of their identity,” said the LGBTI+ activist.

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Lithgow is also part of an organisation that advocates for implementing the Hate Crimes Bill that will ensure that members of the community are treated equally.

“We’ve already presented to parliament our arguments on why we should have the bill and so now it’s sitting with parliament and once they make a decision then it will be signed by the president. As a team we are mandated to work with organisations to intervene in hate crime cases to follow up the progress of the crimes in the courts as well to make sure that justice is served,” she said.

Lithgow said several issues often go unnoticed in communities, and more needs to be done to ensure the safety of all South African women.

“The assaults, bullying, harassment, victimisation, and violence need to stop. Bias and discrimination are factors so deeply embedded in society that we need to all work together in South Africa to make sure that the country is a safe space for everybody,” she noted.

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When asked how South Africans can assist in reducing discrimination among the LGBTQI+ community, Lithgow said:

“if minorities like LGBT people are free to live their lives authentically to make decisions for themselves to just be who they want to be then everybody is free. If those with less power are safe then everybody is.”

She encouraged all South Africans to educate themselves on human rights.

“The best thing you can do in Women’s Month is to enhance everybody’s freedom, fight for the right to be protected. We need to look out for each other and respect each other’s freedom,” Lithgow added.

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In a related matter, Briefly News also reported a young man took courage and "came out" to his family. As he expected, his father stormed out of the room and his mother burst into tears.

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He told his mother that he was sorry and that he would leave their home. The young man's mother worried about what people would say if they found out.

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Source: Briefly News

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