As a build-up to this year’s Feathers Awards, the Thami Dish Foundation in collaboration with its partners such as Proudly South Africa hosted a series of LGBTQIA+ Inclusion and Empowerment Workshops from 12 to 14 October 2021.
The first day (Tuesday, 12 October 2021) of the Workshops focused on representation in the Media and Communication. The first session focussed on ‘the power to empower or to harm through narratives and representation of the LGBT community’. On the panel were Oratile who is an attorney, Petros Abraham from Exit Publications and Thiart Li (Shenay O’Brien) who is a drag artist, MC, producer and singer. Jay Matlou facilitator the second session which was about the basics of diversity, touching on the key principles of gender and sexuality and their application in the media space. The last session of the day focused on ‘broadcasting and film media’ and was moderated by Makgano Mamabolo who is an actress, scriptwriter, producer and show-runner. On the panel were Fanney Tsimong, a creative director at Doti-Producxionz; Athi Patela, a director and producer; and Gaopie who is a cinematographer.
Day 2 saw a number of keynote speakers tackle the issue of Access to Justice. The first session was addressed by Ms. Tasneem Motara (MEC Department of Infrastructure Development). It was followed by a discussion on ‘çreating a victim-centric justice system in terms of LGBT representation’. On the panel were Jade Madingane (Forum for Empowerment of Women – FEW), Roche Kester (Advocacy Coordinator), Fasiha Hassan (Member of Provincial Legislature), and a colonel representing SAPS. In the afternoon, Minister of Justice, Mr. Ronald Lamola addressed the delegation. He opened his speech by listing the names and ages of the victims of hate-crime that have been reported in the last two years. Lamola also mentioned and honoured queer struggle heroes such as Dr. Beverly Dintse and the great Simon Nkoli who famously said, as quoted by Lamola: ”In South Africa I am oppressed because I am black, I am oppressed because I am gay, so I must fight against both oppressions”. The minister remarked that the government has made a number of interventions to protect and promote the rights of LGBTQIA+ persons such as the National Task Team (NTT) developed by the former Minister of Justice and Constitution Development, Jeff Radebe in 2011 to address violence against black lesbian women. Lamola further stated that the NTT has since been reviewed and a new National Intervention Strategy is being development after a number of petitions from local and international civil society organisations. He stated that there is a Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes strategy before the National Assembly which when enacted will prevent the attacks and will roll out community education. He concluded that the justice system comes after the crimes have been committed therefore he pleaded with the general community to ensure that we prevent hate crimes, because ‘’we cannot claim human rights for ourselves and yet deny the same for others” he said.
Day 3’s focus was on Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace. In the first session, to discuss the issue of ‘meaningful representation and visibility of LGBT persons in the workplace’ were panellists Tevesham Erasmus-Kuni, head of credit for commercial asset finance at Standard Bank; Tshepo Jerry Moseki, senior SHEQ co-ordinator; and Helouise Burger of EY. The discussion was followed by Parks Tau, the Gauteng MEC for Economic Development who addressed the delegates on the ‘role of small businesses’ in building an inclusive society. He stated that his opinion is that we should build cities that are inclusive, that recognise human rights, and that create opportunities for all. He said that whilst cities are places of opportunities and prosperity, they tend to discriminate including on the basis of gender amongst other aspects. Tau spoke at length about the government’s policy objectives and industrialisation and re-industrialisation objectives which seek to make society inclusive. He mentioned the township enterprise funding, specifically the township rebuild fund which was released after the riots and looting of businesses in July. It is a capitalisation fund which consists of a 50% grant and a 50% low-interest loans to qualifying applicants who can get up to R50 000 each. The session ran in parallel with a small business clinic with speakers: Barba Gaoganediwe, head of destination media at Gauteng Tourism Authority; Saki Zamxaka, CEO of Gauteng Enterprise Propellor; Zimkitha Guma, manager at LGBT Plus; and Francina Ntsimane from the Department of Economic Development. The day concluded with a session on interesting projects and ideas with speakers, Sylvester Chauke, the founder of DNA band architects; Happy Ngidi, chief officer, marketing and communications at Proudly South African; and Chantelle De Sousa, an attorney who spoke on ‘current labour legislation protecting LGBT employees’. Chauke’s presentation, titled ‘Honesty Gone with the Wind’ was on the role of ‘integrity and authenticity at all levels in today’s world’.
Friday, the 14th was the last day of the Workshops. The whole proceedings ended well with Queerwell hosting a Mental Health Conference. Many brilliant speakers brought in their A-game as they tackled the most pertinent of issues facing us today. However, amongst the speakers line up for the day was the Gauteng MEC for Social Development, Mme Morakane Mosupyoe who didn’t make it to the podium as government officials are under alert owing to the hostage situation the previous night. The director of Queerwell, Dr. Dulcy read her speech. The conference ended with two separate working groups, one focusing on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) led by Jade Malingane (FEW) and the other focusing on ‘self-care’, led by Iyanda from Queerwell. To celebrate the success of the Workshops, the event ended with some food and drinks.