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The Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Councillor Geoffrey Makhubo, has thrown his weight behind the Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex community, insisting that the City’s administration would not tolerate discrimination against any resident based on their sexuality.

In his keynote address to a virtual panel discussion on gay and lesbian rights, the Executive Mayor said the LGBTQI+ community is entitled to all rights as every South African citizen and should be treated with dignity and respect.

“As government we need to reflect on whether we have done all that was expected of us to ensure that the values in the constitution are realised and lived,” said Mayor Makhubo.

The Executive Mayor’s support comes as the City prepares to develop an exclusive programme dedicated to advancing the rights of the LGBTQI+ community.

This was revealed by the Member of Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Health and Social Development, Councillor Eunice Mgcina, during the first-ever LGBTQI+ discussion in the City that aims to address challenges faced by LGBTQI+ community.

“We will consult with the LGBTQI+ community as soon as the first draft has been completed in order to have their input as well,” said Councillor Mgcina.

She said the City is dedicated to advancing human rights with a particular focus on those who are marginalised, including LGBTQI+ community.  

The discussion panel included Jay Judah Matlou from Thami Dish Foundation, Roche Kester from OUT Organisation, Anzio Jacobs from Scope Facilitation and Mpho Buntse from Embrace Diversity Movement.

Matlou said the City had a responsibility to educate residents. 

“How many people attending this virtual discussion know what the letters LGBTQI+ stand for and what they mean? That’s where we have to start when educating the people and I believe the municipality have the resources to do so,” she said. 

Kester said while strides had been made in advancing LGBTQI+ rights over the last two decades, the City had made unfulfilled promises, include having a shelter exclusively dedicated to members of the LGBTQI+ community. 

She urged the City to review its gender policy as most LGBTQI+ community members who work for the municipality are mistreated by their colleagues.

The Member of the Mayoral Committee for Social Development, Councillor Margaret Arnolds, urged residents not to discriminate based on sexuality or race. 

“We should normalise to be proud of ourselves. We should not be in the closet about challenges that are faced by LGBTQI+ community. We must all live with each other in harmony.”