Fikile Vilakazi is the director of the Coalition of Africa Lesbians (CAL) which covers 12 countries including, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Uganda, Nigeria, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania. The CAL run a number of programmes for lesbians across Africa including a Creative Expression project to help lesbians come out through writing, discussions, poetry and art. The main issues facing the lesbian community in Africa is that even in countries like South Africa where lesbian rights are enshrined in the constitution, society itself is still very homophobic which puts them at risk of hate crimes including rape, beatings, and even murder. The recent Civil Union / Same Sex Marriage Bill passed by the South Africa parliament is not the primary concern of the LGBTI community in South Africa. Rather women are concerned over the curative hate crimes, and the homophobia in society. Despite the fact the lesbians are legally able to adopt children people still ask how can lesbians be parents in South Africa? There is also the issue of fundamentalist religions, Christians, Muslims and Hindus .
The legalising of of same sex marriage in South Africa has had repercussions in various African countries such as Nigeria and Uganda which have been extremely negative in their response and have used the South Africa decriminalisation to enforce even more draconian punishments of homosexuality in their countries. On a postive note the response by these governments has been that there is now an active dialogue in Africa around LGBTI issues and more and more of the LGBTI community are coming out and challenging their respective governments and religious institutions on the issue of sexuality and human rights.
The portrait of Fikile Vilakazi was drawn this afternoon by South African cultural Activist, Gabrielle Le Roux at the Q-Spot at the World Social Forum. The portrait is part of a series of portraits that Gabrielle will be drawing of women during the WSF.