South Africa is now past the 2019 general elections. The campaigns atmosphere which saw politicians out in full force, making promises to grassroots citizens is now a thing of the past. For some, this means going back to a sad and dark reality.
A lot of promises were made to the LGBTQ+ community, too. For the first time, I got to see how desperate politicians actually are for votes – particularly LGBTQ+ votes. In the weeks leading up to the general elections, social media was inundated with posters advertising summits where local politicians were to address members of the gay community.
I was taken aback by how these politicians zealously did things they wouldn’t normally do – like organising so-called summits markedly for the gay community.
Sure, post-apartheid South Africa is far better than apartheid South Africa as far as the rights of the gay community are concerned. In the former South Africa, LGBTQ+ rights didn’t exist and homosexuality was a crime punishable by up to seven years in prison. Thanks to the lobbying efforts of the gay community, this draconian law came to an end.
Nonetheless, in post-apartheid South Africa, the existing rights of the LGBTQ+ community are constantly trampled upon and politicians don’t actively talk about this unless they are campaigning for elections. I’ve come to realise that when electioneering, politicians can do or say virtually anything to score some votes.
As I said, promises were made to the LGBTQ+ community during campaigns. These include clichéd statements like: “we will introduce laws to combat hate crimes…” proclaimed by the ANC in its manifesto and the “we will combat discrimination against the LGBTQ community and promote the community’s rights…” as it appears in the DA’s manifesto.
Now that we’ve voted and put politicians into power yet again, all we can do is wait to see if they’ll live up to their promises to improve the lives of the gay community. Hopefully, our waiting isn’t for the next elections where countless promises will be made again. We hope that all promises made to the community will come to fruition.