France’s first lady learns about township life from South African LGBT activists

Valérie Trierweiler used her partner François Hollande’s state visit to discuss how constitutional rights are not translating to a better life for some LGBTI people

France’s first lady learns about township life from South African LGBT activists
16 October 2013

France’s First Lady Valérie Trierweiler has met South African LGBT activists to discuss how daily life doesn’t match the promise of the country’s constitution.

She held the talks on Monday (14 October) while she and her partner, French President François Hollande, were in the country for a two-day state visit.

Anthony Manion, director of Gala (Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action), attended the meeting and told AFP news agency Trierweiler wanted ‘to talk about the daily lives and experience of gay or bisexual women in South Africa who are married or in a relationship’.

Anti-gay violence and corrective rapes of lesbians are a major threat to the country’s LGBTI community, though exact figures are not known.

Traditional leaders in the country have tried and failed to remove equality for homosexuals from the constitution.

But despite same-sex marriage and legal protections, poorer, black LGBTI people in particular still face significant challenges.

Phindi Malaza from the Forum for the Empowerment of Women, told AFP: ‘As LGBTI people living in a township we are really not enjoying those rights and privileges in the constitution.

‘It’s beautiful on paper, but the daily lives say something different.’

Trierweiler was a key player in supporting Hollande and others to introduce same-sex marriage in France this year.

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