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A legacy of fighting for equality for all

Updated: Mar 6

Zackie Achmat, an openly queer activist for over 47 years, has dedicated himself to addressing discrimination and inequality, not just for LGBTQIA+ people, but for marginalised people across society. Over four decades, he has worked with government, and fought against it, to ensure more just and inclusive laws.


Now, as an independent candidate for Parliament, Zackie calls on LGBTQIA+ people to join him to #FixTheState, #ReclaimParliament and #BuildOurCommunities.


In 1993, Zackie co-founded the Association of Bisexuals, Gays and Lesbians the first non-racial working-class queer organisation across Cape Town's townships. He also co-convened with other leaders, the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality. 


The movement achieved historic legal milestones between 1994 and 1999:


  •   Medical aid benefits for same-sex partners

  •   Decriminalisation of sex between men in 1998

  •   Immigration rights for same-sex couples through the Courts

  •   Employment rights and pension benefits for LGBTQIA+ people

  •   Inclusion of sexual orientation in the Refugee Act

  •   Rights for lesbians to bear children and LGBTQIA+ people to adopt children


This work laid the foundation for the recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions.


Zackie was also a founding member of the Employment Equity Alliance, which campaigned for the Employment Equity Bill.


The work of the Employment Equity Alliance led to:


  •   Employment opportunities for persons with disabilities

  •   Elimination of workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation

  •   Improved status of marginalised communities

  •   Facilitated employment for people living with HIV


Since 1985, Zackie has campaigned on HIV/AIDS issues. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1990 and joined the AIDS Law Project in 1994 under the leadership of Edwin Cameron, now a retired Justice of the Constitutional Court. There he worked with others on the development of policies and laws to end discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS including gay men, women, mineworkers and sex workers. When Simon Nkoli, the most important queer leader in South Africa died, Zackie called for the establishment of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC).


One of TAC's most significant victories was the 2002 Constitutional Court ruling in which the South African government was ordered to provide antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Today, the country has one of the largest public sector chronic medicine programmes for a single disease anywhere in the world with more than five million people on antiretroviral treatment.


Zackie signs a Contract of Work, Ethics and Accountability with Zackie2024 supporters to #FixOurState, #ReclaimParliament and to #BuildOurCommunities. A broken state will discriminate against LGBTIQ+ people in the provision of services from Home Affairs and SAPS to healthcare, housing and transport.


When Zackie is elected, he will work to address the needs of LGBTIQ+ people in relation to access and quality of public services. He will create cross-party alliances to work in the interest of queer communities.


Queer Revolution is a political space started by LGBTQIA+ supporters of Zackie2024, to drive forward the continued work of achieving an equal and equitable society for all through education, mobilisation, and advocacy. Queer Revolution, together with Zackie as MP, will work in solidarity with the struggles of the working class, because LGBTIQ+ people cannot be free if everyone is not free.

"We are activists who are queer, not queer activists, and we will be a bedrock in all struggles of the working class," - Zackie Achmat

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