On 26 August the House Committee of House Nala hosted a virtual QueerChats session on Zoom. The panelists included representatives from Up&Out, House Khutso HC, the Department of Jurisprudence and a queer YouTuber.
Up&Out’s Michaela Liesching, who was one of the panelists to speak about the history of the queer community in South Africa, mentioned that in 1966, police raided a queer party in Forest Town with 300 people attending. “This attracted much public and political attention, which, in 1969 lead to an extension of the criminalisation of male homosexuality,” she said. This raid is known till today as “The Forest Town raid” in the queer community. Liesching further added that “on 4 March 1988, the Immorality Act of 1988 imposed an age of consent of 19 for lesbian sex, which had prior to that been unregulated by the law. This was higher than the age of 16 that applied to heterosexual sex.” Further speaking about the history of the queer community, she explained that South Africa had its first pride parade in Johannesburg on 13 October 1990.
Rorisang Molekwa, panelist and House Khutso HC member, spoke about the labels within the queer community. She explains that “the term LGBTQIA refers to – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, pansexual, polygamous and kink.”
“on 4 March 1988, the Immorality Act of 1988 imposed an age of consent of 19 for lesbian sex, which had prior to that been unregulated by the law. This was higher than the age of 16 that applied to heterosexual sex.“
The panel cautioned members of the queer community about the risks of ‘coming out’ if they do not have a proper support structure. Stuku’s Thando Mtimkulu, one of the QueerChats panelists, explained that “queer people should only ‘come out’ if they are safe and ready to do so and if they have a support structure to support them when coming out”. He added that “queer people do not have to come out if it is not safe for them to do so”.
The panel further discussed queerness with regard to the law and touched on intersectionality and queer sensuality. Host Ntombi Nzimande explained the significance of QueerChats as space to “advocate and celebrate” queer people, and offer a platform to share the queer experience.
Image: Damilola Jonathan Oladeji