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South African LGBTIQA+ rights activist Mmapaseka Steve Letsike sworn in as an MP

Mmapaseka Steve Letsike is not the first gay or lesbian person to be a member of South Africa’s parliament, but she arguably the first MP to have a distinguished career in supporting LGBTIQA+ rights prior to entering politics.

On Friday the 38-year-old internationally recognised human rights defender was sworn as an MP by South Africa’s Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

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Letsike is the founder of LGBTIQA+ group Access Chapter 2 and has been the chair of the Commonwealth Equality Network and served as the co-chair of the South African AIDS Council.

She has also previous served on a national task force that looked into the rising number of LGBTIQA+ hate crimes in South Africa.

On Facebook Letsike said she was proud that her swearing in had taken place during International Pride Month.

“Today, as a proud Black lesbian woman, I was sworn in as a Member of Parliament of the Republic of South Africa,” she said.

Letsike is a member of the African National Congress (ANC), the political party that has governed the country since 1994 when the first post-apartheid election saw Nelson Mandela elected as President.

The May election saw the party lose its parliamentary majority but were able to remain in government after President Cyril Ramaphosa struck a deal with the centre-right Democratic Alliance, a former political foe, and a number of smaller parties.

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