Africa has elected its first black gay member of parliament today (22 May).
Zakhele Mbhele, a member of the opposition Democratic Alliance, was sworn in to the South African National Assembly.
The 29-year-old is also the second ever gay MP in an African government, following UK-born Mike Waters’ first appointment in South Africa in 1999.
An activist, as well as a politician, Mbhele has said he hopes to encourage equality and oppose violence against the LGBTI community while in office.
‘The laws and the constitution are way ahead of society,’ he has said in the past.
‘The laws themselves reflect the aspirations and the values that we should have but the vastness of society itself is still very conservative, very prejudiced when it comes to LGBT issues.’
Mbhele is also the 203rd openly gay member of parliament worldwide since Coos Huijsen became the first, in the Netherlands, in 1976.
He was sworn in on Harvey Milk Day, commemorating the first gay man to be elected to US office.
In one of Milk’s speeches, he said: ‘Without hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us’es, the us’es will give up.
‘And if you help elect to the central committee and other offices, more gay people, that gives a green light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward.
‘It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone.’
– See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/africa-elects-first-gay-black-mp220514#sthash.XaHHenxS.dpuf