In partnership with the Washington, D.C.-based Victory Institute, Triangle Project launched the Political Leadership Learning Institute (PLLI) in 2016. The PLLI aims to equip emerging LGBTIQ activists and leaders with theoretical and practical skills to advance human rights and LGBTIQ equality through participation in the democratic process and interaction with political institutions.
Why political leadership?
Although South Africa has made significant legislative advances regarding LGBTIQ rights, South African LGBTIQ people, due to several intersecting vulnerabilities, still experience a significant amount of inequality and violence. LGBTIQ persons continue to face extreme forms of violence, which some data and anecdotal experience suggest is critically under-reported. Brought about by Apartheid and Settler Colonialism, intersecting identities such as race, class, geography, and gender also play a significant role in the lives of LGBTIQ South Africans.
In order to advance towards equality and help to reduce this violence, it is essential to strengthen the capacities of LGBTIQ leaders so that they are best prepared to participate in the democratic process and hold public office positions. This will encourage a more fluid dialogue with political institutions. Having more politically prepared LGBTIQ leaders will also help to position LGBTIQ equality on the country’s political agenda and more effectively address the violence affecting this population, both from civil society and from political institutions.
The existence of openly LGBTIQ elected officials produces a double effect on the population: on one hand, it is an awareness tool within state institutions, enabling other public officials to actually get to know LGBTIQ people as equals; and, secondly, it provides positive role models for young LGBTIQ people. The presence of openly LGBTI elected officials is also key to achieving social equality, as it allows there to be a voice in the room where decisions are being made.
In December 2018, Triangle Project and Victory Institute commenced a two-year project, Strengthening Democracy through LGBTI Political Participation in South Africa, funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) which aims to strengthen South Africa’s democracy through increasing equal participation of LGBTI people and promoting understanding among political parties and the Independent Electoral Commission around the importance of diverse representation. This will be achieved through the training of LGBTI leaders in civic engagement strategy and working with parties and the Commission to adopt policies and procedures to improve LGBTI representation, participation, voter registration and turn out.