New gay rights party launches in South Africa
A new party committed to defend gays and lesbians against violence and persecution is standing in South Africa's elections later this year.
The Equal Rights Party will also have a platform to speak out against violations of gay rights in other countries like Nigeria, Uganda and Russia.
South Africa’s constitution, signed by Nelson Mandela 17 years ago, outlawed discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation and, although same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since 2006, violence against gays and lesbians still occurs regularly.
“South Africa has one of the most beautiful constitutions that guarantees the rights of the people who are lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, et cetera. But in reality, it doesn't work well,” said party spokesperson Michael Herbst.
“We need a voice in parliament to protect women from being raped because people want to cure them from being lesbians. We need someone in parliament when boys are bullied at school because they are thought to be gay.
With seats in South Africa's National Assembly awarded proportionally and parties with as little as 0.2 per cent of the vote in the current parliament, Herbst said the Equal Rights Party “can definitively make it.”