Empowering sexual and gender diverse minorities

By Dumisani Dube

“Despite the tools and instruments at the disposal of legislators and policy makers, the laws in South Africa have not yet been fully translated into impactful changes in society that will allow women, girls and LGBTQI individuals space to thrive. Patriarchy, heteronormativity, cisnormativity, and gender biases adversely affect the lives of everyone. 

Our collective voice is the very thing that will achieve our goals for equality, respect, inclusion, justice, dignity and freedom, while still embracing and affirming our many diversities. Human rights are women’s rights, human rights are children’s rights, human rights are LGBTI rights, and as we fight for each other’s right to exist, to be safe, to thrive, we fight for our own rights to do the same.”  Kim Lithgow

Kim Lithgow is a South African human rights activist known for her work empowering sexual and gender diverse minorities. In 2013 she co-founded Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays South Africa (PFLAG South Africa) and in 2016 she founded Same Love Toti, both of which support LGBTI youth and their families by providing safe spaces, humanitarian relief and counselling. 

Since 2016 she has served on the LGBTI Provincial Task Team monitoring hate crimes in KwaZulu-Natal. In 2019 she was elected to the steering committee for the Hate Crimes Working Group, working towards the introduction and implementation of the Prevention and Combatting Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill. In 2020 she was chosen as a Rise Up Leader in South Africa, by Rise Up for Girls, a global organisation working for gender equity and inclusion. 

She works on compulsory Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender expression and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) education in schools, with the Department of Basic Education and the Social Inclusion in Education Working Group. Her work also covers Gender Affirming Health care for transgender, intersex and gender diverse individuals, as well as training the Department of Home Affairs officials regarding the Official Identity Management policy, pertaining to the importance of diversity and inclusion. 

Demonstrating her holistic approach to human rights, she began the Art Explosion in 2019, an event that amplifies queer voices in poetry, music and literature, bringing the lived experiences of sexual and gender diverse individuals to the fore.

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