The conference theme of the 10th IUF African Region titled “rights and decent work for all – our common struggle” is engraved on my mind and heart as a confirmation that LGBTI workers are no less human than any other worker or person of different sexual orientation and gender identity to them. No one can persuade any human rights activist that homosexuals and transsexuals are not human beings to be treated with respect and dignity like any other person.
Even today such views and attitude are being combatted whenever they rear their ugly heads. In the same way, the IUF at the global and regional level mandated its staff and affiliates to locate the struggle for equality of LGBTI workers and their families as a human rights campaign connected to the struggle to uphold women and gender equality rights. They are inseparable and require all activists to fully understand the issues around LGBTI. The 10th IUF Regional conference decision commands us to develop a training programme that will ensure that issues on sexual orientation and/or sexuality are well understood so as to fight better in our quest to realize equality for all. This contribution, therefore, seeks to advance that decision.
A person to have any of this sexual or romantic inclination does not become less human than any person with different sexual orientation. The sad part is that heterosexuality is deeply embedded in the cultural life and religious belief so much that it is seen as natural, normal and desirable. This is so because society has privileged heterosexualism and heterosexism to a dominant level to an extent that there are pronounced negative standpoint on homosexuals and bisexuals. As a result of this social prejudice, there is a disconcertingly high prevalence of homophobic attack and discrimination in most parts of the African region. Homophobia refers to conduct which is an irrational fear of and/hostility towards the gay, lesbian and bisexual persons. Certainly, this has a direct and indirect impact on the working life and as the trade union movement in Africa silence cannot be taken as a refuge. We must challenge the mistaken view that homosexuality is unnatural, abnormal, wrong, shameful, strange or undesirable.
We must step up by organizing together, fighting together and uprooting together the deeply entrenched prejudices. The 10th IUF Africa Region Conference resolution beckons!!
By Mopholosi Morokong
IUF Africa Regional OHS Project Coordinator