Pflag South Africa is based in Amanzimtoti near Durban, and was founded by Kim Lithgow with the help of some friends. Since 2014, the name of the group has changed to “Same Love Toti.”
The motto is “Different families, same love”. Which refers to the fact that all families share the same love for each other, even if some of the individuals are LGBTI.
Same Love caters to the needs of the parents of gays/lesbians/transgendered/intersex persons (now referred to as LGBTI). We have found that many parents are shocked and upset when they hear that their child is LGBTI. There are many misunderstandings and misinformation that surrounds what it really means to be LGBTI, and this is where Same Love Toti comes in. Parents are able to ask questions in a safe place. They can find out more about the realities of having a LGBT child, the challenges that their child faces and the challenges that they as parents face.
It is important to become increasingly knowledgeable about the law in South Africa, and how the law supports and protects LGBT, and where to go for help should that be necessary. On a personal front, it is beneficial to be aware of the various information available from a wide range of sources, from medical and psychological journals, to research and social issues, even the most popular questions and answers relating to religion.
We also provide support to LGBTI persons, knowing full well the challenges that they face. We believe that being different is a natural human trait, and that these differences should be celebrated.
The World Health Organisation declared in 1990, that being gay was neither a sickness nor a mental condition, and therefore did not need to be “cured” or changed. They have found that being gay is a natural variation found within the human race. Variation in gender and sexual orientation occurs in people from all countries, all religions, all races, all languages, rich and poor.
Our Constitution prohibits discrimination against anyone, including orientation and gender identity. The Equality court stands ready to hear all cases that pertain to discrimination. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has a LGBTI National Task Team based in Pretoria, which comprises of judges, magistrates, lawyers, police and social workers for LGBTI rights. They have tasked the LGBTI Provincial Task Team and the local Community Service Organisation, NPO’s and NGO’s to do the work on the ground, and report any matters necessary to Pretoria. The Hate Crimes Working Group compiles all reports of discrimination, bias, hate-speech and hate crimes.
It is with all these things in mind that we do what we do. Supporting and educating all those affected by the stigma that society places on LGBT and their families, and helping them stay together and face these adversities, in the knowledge that all people are precious and deserve the freedom to live their lives openly and with integrity. All people have the right to be treated as equals, have the right to safety, the right to love who they love, and the right to be who they are.
Twitter: @SameLoveToti https://twitter.com/SameLoveToti