NONTOBEKO AISHA MKHWANAZI reports on a dialogue on LGBTQI in Langa organised by an organisation aimed at fighting gender-based violence.
‘ISLAM is totally against any homosexual act but it equally does not encourage disrespect and violence against anyone who holds an opposing view,’ claims the administrator of the Western Cape Shura Council, former secretary of the Voice of the Cape’s Community Forum Election Committee (CFEC) and Muslim youth activist, Khalid Giveus-Badi.
He expressed this during a dialogue on the stance of African culture regarding the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex (LGBTQI+) community, which was organised by #Langa for Men, on June 11, 2022, at the Love Life Centre, in KwaLanga.
According to the programme director, Luyolo Lengisi-Hawule, #Langa for Men, an organisation aimed at fighting gender-based violence (GBV), organised the event in order to create a platform of engagement for community members on the core reasons why the majority of Africans would not accept the LGBTQI + community.
The event was well attended by the community, with the panel of guests consisting of youth from different religious and cultural backgrounds.
Badi, who was the opening panellist, presented the stance of African culture and the position of Islam regarding the LGBTQI + community.
‘As Muslims, we do not make laws but we obey God’s commands. We also do not impose our views on others. The Holy Quran prohibits homosexual behaviour as it destroys not only the moral fibre of communities but the family structure of society,’ claims Badi.
He also highlighted that while Islam may prohibit homosexual acts, it still promotes human rights.
‘Islam strongly advocates for the creation of a peaceful society that seeks to co-exist and cooperate in order to develop and achieve a more respectable approach to differences that exist in communities. We have to understand that we have different beliefs, which contradict each other.
‘Therefore, it is important that we find common ground, and, in this case, it is human rights. I am here not to support the LGBTQI+ community on their practices but to explain the stance of Islam, which also prohibits the killing and discrimination of those who have differing beliefs,’ said Badi.
He urged the LGBTQI+ community to stop enforcing acceptance and placing their flags at the doorstep of those who disagree with them but engage them with respect to teach them about themselves but nonetheless not expect acceptance because everyone is entitled to choose their own culture or belief system.
Radio and television presenter, Lilitha Ntsundwini, who was among the panellists, expressed that, according to him, African culture is ‘toxic’ and poses a threat to the development of communities.
He further highlighted that culture is made by people and therefore should be constantly developed to fit the needs of each generation but argues that it is not the case with African culture as the majority of those who uphold the culture still fail to acknowledge the existence of the LGBTQI + community.
Panellist, Vatheka Halile, a human rights activist called on the LGBTQI+ community to learn to respect religious institutions.
‘As Africans, respect is something we hold dearly, whether an individual is part of the LGBTQI+ community or not. I cannot stress enough the importance of the need to maintain respect to other religious establishments. For example, if you are attending church then adhere to the dress code and principles of that institution because those are the rules of that establishment,’ said Halile.
Sixteen-year-old, Zama Qumbu, one of the attendees, said that African culture, like Islam, prohibits homosexuality not because it’s an attack on any individual but because it seeks to destroy procreation.
‘Both my parents are Xhosa and are very culturally inclined. They have also raised me and my two siblings to value the Xhosa culture as it is the culture of our forefathers. It brings pride and joy to call myself a Xhosa because it is my identity.
‘Therefore, I disagree with some of the panellists who are of the view that culture is outdated and not important for our society. In fact, our cultures are needed now more than ever to solve the issues we currently face, particularly in KwaLanga,’ said Qumbu.
She also highlighted that being part of the LGBTQI + community has now become a trend for youngsters in KwaLanga.
‘It is hard to tell these days who really forms part of the LGBTQI + community because, in my community, it has become a trend, especially for children who are in my age group.
‘I have a friend, whom I know is not a lesbian but engages in homosexual acts because it is seen as cool and vibrant. She also wanted me to be a lesbian and when I refused, I was labelled a homophobe. This really affected my social circle negatively because none of my close school friends want to be associated with me,’ said Qumbu.
#Langa for Men plans to have more such dialogues not only to bring the community together but to also allow them an opportunity to learn and understand each other in order to achieve a community filled with love and peace.