Somewhere over the rainbow nation: gay, lesbian and bisexual activism in South Africa

SOURCE: Journal of Southern African Studies
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2008
TITLE AUTHOR(S): R.R.Thoreson
KEYWORDS: BISEXUALITY, HOMOSEXUALITY, LESBIANS, SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 6557

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Abstract

This study addresses the apparent paradox that South Africa's gay, lesbian and bisexual (GLB) movement, although opposed by the vast majority of the population, has progressed much faster since democratisation in 1994 than other GLB movements worldwide. Why have the movement's legal victories especially on same-sex marriage, which is little-discussed in the scholarly literature not been overturned by a hostile public? My answer considers the political alignments of the post-apartheid era, the tactical responses of the movement and its opponents, and the attempts of both sides to site their arguments within the broader master frames of liberation or tradition. The GLB movement has succeeded because stable political alignments allow it to concentrate on lobbying and litigation, where it has compellingly argued that its own agenda dovetails with that of the ruling elite. The countermovement, in contrast, has focused on electoral politics, has lacked internal cohesion, and has been unable to craft a message that resonates with the beliefs and values of post-apartheid nationalism weaknesses that to date have impeded popular opposition from interfering with the GLB movement's legal victories and that are likely to continue doing so unless elite alignments change.