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Video: ‘Laws are great,’ but LGBTI struggle must go further

Jabu Pereira: "We had to document and make sure that our black queer lives mattered."
Jabu Pereira: “We had to document and make sure that our black queer lives mattered.”

Laws guaranteeing human rights for LGBTI people have their limits.

“Laws are great, but they don’t make you full. They don’t stop you from being raped. Economic empowerment and poverty alleviation is what we need. Stand by us,” says Jabu Pereira of South Africa in this week’s video from the “Quorum” series of 11 discussions of international LGBTI issues.

Some excerpts from the video:

“In 1994, we were completely elated that as black queer  people and black  South Africans, we stood in lines for hours and hours and we cast our very first vote. And — double victory — because sexual orientation was guaranteed into our Constitution.”

“Who would have thought … that South Africa would become the fifth country in the world to recognize same-sex marriage? It was unbelievable. But, as we know, apartheid never ended because we cast our vote. It’s a continuum of a struggle to fight against the evils of poverty and racial inequality.  … Queer white folks, they are safe. They walk down parks, they kiss, they make out in public … but right on the outskirts of that very same city there are  thousands and thousands of black lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex persons who can never enjoy that privilege.”

Despite official guarantees of human rights for LGBTI people in South Africa, violence and HIV infection are huge, growing problems, Pereira said.

That was why the activist media group Iranti-org was founded, Pereira said.

“We had to document and make sure that our black queer lives mattered, that it had to be visiblized, it had to be on the national and international agenda.”

That is how violence can be confronted and defeated, Pereira said, citing specific cases of violence against transgender and lesbian South Africans.

“Documentation is what we do to assure that evidence is gathered so we can advocate for justice.”

The Pereira video is the fourth of 11 discussions of international LGBTI issues that overall are designed to “reverse the megaphone,” allowing activists from abroad to tell Western viewers about the challenges that LGBTI people face worldwide. The videos were recorded at a December 2014 meeting in New York.

The series, under its full title “Quorum: Global LGBT voices,” is presented by The Daily Beast. The Erasing 76 Crimes blog, as a member of the advisory board for the project, helped The Daily Beast select Quorum speakers.

The Quorum website includes a link that allows readers to provide needed support for the work of Erasing 76 Crimes, which is an all-volunteer operation. All donations go to reimburse expenses of the blog’s volunteer reporters, such as the cost of bus fare to reach locations where LGBTI defendants have been imprisoned for their sexual orientation.

The video is on the Quorum page and on YouTube.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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