Africa | Gay Rights | Nelson Mandela | South Africa

With Mandela Gone, Gays in South Africa Worry About Potential Rollback of Rights: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 11.36.48 AM

As the only country in Africa with marriage equality, gay and lesbian South Africans have arguably enjoyed more expansive freedoms and rights than most other LGBT individuals across the continent.

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 11.38.53 AMSouth Africa's unique situation is, in no small part, thanks to Nelson Mandela and the human rights reforms he set into motion as president during the 1990s.

Now, with Mandela's passing, some gay South Africans are concerned about a possible rollback of LGBT rights. In a video profile, The New York Times interviews an interracial, gay South African couple to get their take on Mandela's passing and what it means for larger challenges related to the intersection of race, class, and sexuality in the country.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. I've lived on and off in South Africa, becoming a citizen after finishing my undergraduate degree at the University of Capetown, and I honestly think these concerns are very much unfounded. Coming as someone who is Eurasian but easily passes as white, I also experienced the anxiety of the white minority when Mobeki took power and when Zuma was elected four years ago. All thought the end times would be coming for the white minority because Mandela's 'hippie peace' advocacy no longer was present in the ANC (The ruling national party), but whites are still there, and very much secure (We can debate black empowerment legislation later...).

    SO long story short I think this is just the gay version of what whites experience every time something happens in the leadership of the ANC/South Africa and it's (Up to this point) been unfounded. Plus the Consitutional Court has the power to set this legislation and the power to overrule it, Gays and Lesbians will be fine in the legal sense. What is really worrisome in South Africa is the actual state of public opinion about Homosexuality and the widespread 'corrective' rapes of Lesbians in rural areas.

    Posted by: Vera | Dec 16, 2013 2:47:56 PM

  2. Vera, the article touches on the legal issues as well, pointing out that part of the worries concern the new(?) Chief Justice, who has, according to the video, said anti-gay things.

    I suggest readers familiarize themselves with what Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is about. Having a legal education myself and being acquainted with the South African Constitution, I - frankly speaking - was shocked. (Of course, I hope the vast majority of South African jurists are not like the Chief Justice.)

    Posted by: Victor | Dec 16, 2013 3:27:12 PM

  3. It's pretty shambolic. It makes The Naval Academy's Gangnam Style lip sync seem like it was directed by Robert Iscove.

    But the bigger picture here is that frat boys at a rather insular southern/midwestern university can even attempt something like this and post it on youtube for all to see. Whether any particular one of them considers himself homophobic or not (or rather 'family-oriented', 'traditional' or whatever nonsense terminology they would use), it's a sign of a cultural shift where straight men aren't a ashamed of appearing, for lack of a better term, a little bit camp. And the main reason for that is that "teh gay" is no longer the terrifying cultural boogeyman it once was.
    Mind you, I'm not naive. There's often a seeming (key qualifier) undercurrent of homoeroticism in fraternities and always has been. I remember in the mid 90s my semi-rural university's yearbook had a picture of the butchest fraternity of them all, frequented by the football team, where one guy had coped a spontaneous kiss of another when most of them were probably in a drunken haze. Still, that's a far cry from a very public, very twee lip sync video. We do live in "interesting times".

    Posted by: EchtKultig | Dec 16, 2013 4:12:19 PM

  4. As a South African I think people waaaay overstate the influence of Mandela in the last decade. He's been totally out of the picture for several years now, and his death really isn't going to make any change on the political landscape.

    Posted by: aj | Dec 16, 2013 4:37:37 PM

  5. AJ, I totally agree, he is indeed the father of the nation but he's really only ever been a fond memory, actual policy wasn't a big legacy for his presidential term, that was Mobeki.

    Posted by: Vera | Dec 16, 2013 4:55:23 PM

  6. I appreciate the discussion going on here. It's always positive to visit the blogs and actually learn something...from people who know.

    I find it difficult to believe that after 20 years of having civil rights for Gay South Africans written into the SA Constitution--that those rights could be repealed. In the US that would involve a constitutional ammendment, and in our system that's almost impossible.

    ....learned something today.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Dec 16, 2013 5:30:59 PM

  7. OMG - did I do that? I posted my comment under the wrong story. It was meant for the Arkansas frat boy lip sync story.

    Posted by: EchtKultig | Dec 16, 2013 7:15:00 PM

  8. Derrick: yes, it would involve a constitutional amendment in South Africa too. A constitutional amendment to the Bill of Rights would need a two-thirds majority in Parliament and the support of six (of nine) provincial legislatures. It is very unlikely that such an amendment would pass.

    Posted by: AJ | Dec 17, 2013 3:41:41 AM

  9. Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging

    Posted by: Enchantra | Dec 17, 2013 10:32:14 AM

Post a comment


« «Gay Australian Olympian Pledges to Wear 'Principle Six' Protest Merchandise at Sochi Games« «