18/09/2017 11:26 SAST | Updated 18/09/2017 11:26 SAST

First LGBTQI Desk For ANC

The desk is the first step to an official LGBTI league, activists say.

RAJESH JANTILAL via Getty Images
Members of the South African Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community chant slogans as they take part in the three-day Durban Pride Festival.

The ANC Johannesburg region has officially announced that it will start the party's first LGBTI Desk.

This comes after party members, who call themselves the ANC LGBTI Forum, campaigned for a 'safe space' within the party.

ANC LGBTI forum founder Mpho Buntse told HuffPost SA that they had been lobbying for an official ANC LGBTI league since 2014, but had found no support from the party. Last week the group approached the Office of ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe to formalise a LGBTQI league, but were told that a desk would be a better place to begin.

"We understand that it could be tedious to begin a league, so the resolution is that we give all regions an opportunity to mobilise and set up structures within their different regions. ANC in Johannesburg will be the first to house us as an LGBTI desk and through coordination facilitated by us we will work towards lobbying for a league." Buntse said.

It is the first time in the history of the party's liberation movement that a space is created for the LGBTI community, Buntse said.

"We view this as victory because for the first time in the history ...we will be launching LGBTI offices under the ANC. Our main work now is to use Gauteng as a model to convince provinces to adopt this structure."

The ANC LGBTI forum will, Buntse explains, act as a desk that will address issues of LGBTI advocacy and education, "especially in advocating for the adoption of safe spaces in public institutions and gender sensitive programmes and contributing towards the creation and implementation of policy and organising towards the formalisation of a formal structure."

The forum has now called on members of the ANC to support their fledgling group.

"We urge members of the ANC to support us through this process and demonstrate that they respect the constitution of the ANC and that of the country, to be reminded of the vision that the forefathers of SA's democracy had of a free country that does not discriminate people on the basis of their sexual orientation."