Saturday, July 13, 2013

Stockholm, May 23, 2013

Future South African and Swedish LGBT Co-operation

Golden Tupilak Awarded to Nelson Mandela at South African Embassy

Bill Schiller & Ambassador Mandisa Dona Marasha (photos by Willi Reichhold)

Stockholm -- A delegation from Tupilak (Nordic rainbow cultural workers) handed over the 2013 Golden Tupilak award to former  President Nelson Mandela via the South African Embassy in the Swedish capital on May 21, 2013.

Receiving the award diploma on his behalf, South African Ambassador Mandisa Dona Marasha said, "This is a great honor and the diploma will be forwarded to Nelson Mandela and the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa. We are also proud that South Africa under President Mandela was the first nation in the world to include "sexual orientation" in the clause on non-discrimination in its state constitution." 

In the embassy discussions of the worsening situation for LGBT people in parts of Africa, in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, First Secretary Eden Reid said, "It is important that the position of Mr. Mandela on LGBT rights is remembered as a reminder to many others today."

The award motivation mentions Mandela´s instructions --  while still in house arrest --  to his assistants not to send away rainbow-flag carrying demonstrators joining in the risk-filled protests chanting 'Free Nelson Mandela' since everyone was needed on the barricades NOW -- not later. 

It also points out that  Mandela -- on one of his first foreign trips as the new president of South Africa -- was asked at a Stockholm press conference what he would do for LGBT people in South Africa, he answered that he "...would leave no stone unturned" in work for the rights of LGBT people in the new South Africa.

"We feel that Nelson Mandela's pioneering position and continued support of LGBT rights is a strong message to many other political and religious leaders around the world trying to win support from reactionary homophobes by publically denouncing LGBT people -- even calling for their persecution, imprisonment and execution," said Bill Schiller, Tupilak's international secretary.

In discussions of future co-operation between Swedish and South African LGBT activists and cultural workers,Penny Hlanze, third secretary at the embassy, said, "We will be happy to help in assisting with contacts to LGBT organizations in South Africa and would very much like to see a mutual exchange between activists and cultural workers in our country and Sweden."

"South Africa has a long history of supporting culture as a powerful means of working against intolerance and discrimination," Eden Reid concluded.

This Tupilak's finest prize diploma has earlier gone to such individuals and organizations as Amnesty International, Sweden's Civil Rights Defenders, the international humanist movement, the EU's LGBT Network and those working within the United Nations trying to educate and enlighten representatives of homohobic governments which continue to deny human rights and dignity to all citizens.  

A "tupilak" is a Greenlandic voo doo figure cared out of bone by Inuit to destroy enemies.  Tupilak's enemies are homophobia and silence.

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