The City of Joburg and the Thami Dish Foundation celebrated the last day of human rights month on Tuesday by raising awareness of workplace discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and others) community.

According to foundation founder Thami Kotlolo, many workplaces are not inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community and a lot of people that identify with the community are not comfortable in work environments.

While this conversation has been had multiple times, and progress has been made, many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and queer people still worry that revealing their sexuality at work will have negative consequences.

“Many corporate companies do not acknowledge the LGBTQI+ community, they do not have gender neutral bathrooms or include them when greeting everyone in a meeting. Even today people still say ‘good morning ladies and gentlemen’ which is very exclusive.”

“Queer people often face disparities in access to health care, they even avoid clinics because of the treatment they get in many healthcare facilities. Law enforcements as well and how they generally treat cases at police stations. Many queer people get secondary victimisation when they get to a police station,” said Kotlolo.

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He said that the dress codes and uniforms always presented challenges for queer employees. He also said that it was important for people to understand gender diversity and sexual orientation so that the LGBTQIA+ community was included in company policies.

Joburg mayoral committee member Loyiso Masuku said such topics should be discussed, and strong anti-discrimination policy established in the recruitment and promotion practices of companies.

“We need to develop a clear mission for supporting the LGBTQI+ community in the work force implemented by senior management.”

“In cases of homophobic bullying, programmes that develop and support the community need to be in place.

“We need to promote coming out days and sponsor pride parties to spread more awareness of the community and teach people about their inclusivity and diversity,” she said.

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