Pretoria – A task team will be set up to look into the interests and concerns of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersexed (LGBTI) community.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on Tuesday met with representatives of the LGBTI community in Pretoria, where the decision was taken to establish this specialised team.
Minister Gigaba said the task team is expected to report back within 14 days.
“Through the task team, the LGBTI community will also be able to raise issues with us as they arise, as well as campaigns we can handle jointly.
“Working with the LGBTI community, we will intensify efforts to change attitudes to address any hurdles that may arise,” the Minister said in a media briefing after the joint meeting.
Minister Gigaba said the task team’s duty is not necessarily to change the current legislation. He stressed, however, that government remains committed to ensuring that all forms of discrimination are dealt with through, among others, the available disciplinary measures.
“We will continue to raise awareness among officials so that all officials handle properly all matters affecting the LGBTI community,” Minister Gigaba said.
The Minister said the meeting with representatives of the LGBTI community was held at a time when plans are afoot to repackage Home Affairs into a transformed, modern and secure custodian of national identity and status.
“It is important for us therefore to engage with the LGBTI community to look at the last 10 years to see what has been achieved and what is still to be done,” the Minister said.
The meeting also discussed problems encountered by the LGBTI community when seeking assistance at the Department of Home Affairs. To address this, Minister Gigaba said all the department’s officials will undergo sensitivity training.
He said he was shocked to hear that some of the department’s officials ask for proof when conducting marriage ceremonies of same-sex couples.
Other issues raised at the meeting include child adoption by same-sex couples and challenges facing asylum seekers.
“I have directed the department to clarify the requirements and procedures in respect of those areas viewed as problematic in the two pieces of legislation and to ensure that the Standard Operation procedures at all offices are the same,” he said.
Joshua Sehoole, the regional co-ordinator of Iranti-org — a human rights visual media organisation — said he was happy with the outcomes of the meeting.
“We are happy with the Minister’s commitment to look into the issues affecting LGBTI people. We also hope that other government departments will follow the same example,” he said.