Category Archives: Queer & Trans Struggles
This year’s census in Nepal includes a new category for transgender people, thanks to a recently-passed anti-discrimination law. Parliamentarian Sunil Babu Pant says the transgender community is happy because, “This shows that the government has started to recognise them.”
By Tim McCaskell.
Canadian Dimension is the leading progressive politics magazine in Canada. Published 6 times per year, it covers art, politics, labour, indigenous issues, queer, feminist and emerging social movements.
Twenty-five years ago I used to compile the international news for The Body Politic, at the time Canada’s leading gay and lesbian liberation journal. In the winter of 1985 I was sifting through the piles of newspapers, journals, and newsletters that we received every month and I noticed a small article in a newsletter from Scotland.
The article talked about a young anti-apartheid activist who was being held in solitary confinement and who had just come out as a gay man.
Anti-apartheid activism was a major current in progressive organizing in Toronto in the mid 80s so the story immediately piqued my interest. I contacted the Toronto Committee for the Liberation of South African Colonies (TCLSAC) and got the number of a member who had returned to South Africa. He was able to put me in touch with someone who was in contact with this young man, Simon Nkoli.
Simon was one of the Delmas 22, most of whom were members of the United Democratic Front. The UDF was the major legal anti-apartheid organization since the African National Congress (ANC) had been banned as a terrorist group. The UDF had been central to organizing protests against arbitrary rent hikes in the African townships surrounding Johannesburg. Most of the protests had been peaceful, but violence had broken out on a number of occasions and there had been several deaths. In September 1984, the South African police attempted to crush the ongoing protests and swooped down on key organizers, arresting twenty-two. The prisoners were held in solitary confinement until they were finally charged with treason and murder in January 1986, charges that could carry the death penalty.
Simon had been a leader in both the Congress of South African Students and the UDF. He was also a gay man and had joined the fledgling Gay Association of South Africa (GASA) in 1983. GASA, ostensibly a multi-racial group, was overwhelmingly white in practice. Meetings, for example, were usually held in white only areas. Simon was disturbed by this and organized a support group that met in Soweto on GASA’s behalf. The Saturday Group, as it became known, was overwhelmingly black. Read the rest of this entry