By Ntando Makhubu | Pretoria News | January 27, 2016)
THE MEDIA and its role in promoting the rights of sexual minority groups was the subject of a discussion hosted by the American Embassy yesterday.
The talks were hosted by the Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Catherine Hill-Hendron. She allowed members of the media to interact with people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities. The event was led by the American Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons Randy Berry.
He is in the country on a short visit, which includes discussing the role played by the American media in promoting a mindset shift to advance the objectives of improving LBGTI rights.“It took concerted effort and collaborations for us to reach the stage we are at,” Berry told the gathering at Hill-Hendron’s residence.
The group of media practitioners, activists, film-makers and producers debated the current state of affairs in the country and agreed that the interests of sexually marginalised groups were not a priority in areas where a difference could be made.
The Constitution, religion and culture and how they all affected the lives of the minority groups was also debated, and an agreement that more needed to be done to raise awareness was reached. “We need to have conversations around violence and discrimination,” said Berry.
Taking awareness into the country’s newsrooms and the formation of strong partnerships between LGBTI and the media; taking the campaign to raise awareness and empower the grassroots, the townships and the higher echelons of power were outlined as objectives.
Also, to shift public opinion on LGBTI rights and ensuring that future generations were free of homophobic tendencies which led to the discrimination of LGBTI, formed part of the agreements reached at the discussion yesterday.