France’s First Lady Valerie Trierweiler met with South African gay rights groups on Monday to assess the grim reality for homosexuals in the country despite some of the world’s best legal protection.
As French President Francois Hollande signed business deals on the first of a two-day state visit, his partner held talks with a lesbian couple after having lunch with campaign groups, according to activist Anthony Manion who attended the group talks.
She wanted "to talk about the daily lives and experience of gay or bisexual women in South Africa who are married or in a relationship," said Manion, director of rights group Gala (Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action).
The meeting was closed to the media and the couple was not identified.
Activists said they want Trierweiler, who spearheaded France’s legalisation of same-sex marriage in May, to put pressure on South African authorities to better implement liberal laws that do not reflect an often conservative society.
In May last year traditional leaders asked parliament to delete a clause in the constitution that guarantees equal rights to homosexuals.
"We need those international pressures in our country," said Phindi Malaza from the Forum for the Empowerment of Women, referring to lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI).
"As LGBTI people living in a township we are really not enjoying those rights and privileges in the constitution," she told AFP, referring to low income areas in South Africa where the black majority live.
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