Accompanying her husband, French President Francois Hollande, France’s First Lady Valerie Trierweiler met with LGBT campaigners in South Africa.
According to Huffington Post, she met with an unidentified lesbian couple while Hollande initiated deals on their two-day state visit in South Africa. The meeting itself was also restricted from the media.
“[Trierweiler] wanted to talk about the daily lives and experience of gay or bisexual women in South Africa who are married or in a relationship,” Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action director Anthony Manion said in a statement to the press.
LGBT campaigners hope Trierweiler’s presence will bring awareness to the issue of homophobic violence in the country, despite being the only government in Africa to have an LGBT-inclusive constitution and to have legalized marriage equality in 2006.
In April, a gay man was attacked in Khayelitsha, and a lesbian was murdered and sexually mutilated in Johannesburg over the summer.
“We need those international pressures in our country,” Forum for the Empowerment of Women spokesperson Phindi Malaza said in a statement to the Associate Foreign Press. “As LGBTI people living in a township we are really not enjoying those rights and privileges in the constitution. It’s beautiful on paper, but the daily lives say something different.”
According to an Amnesty International report, at least seven murders are related to anti-gay attacks from June to November 2012. Five of those seven were crimes against lesbians.
The South African government assembled a task force to combat homophobic violence in 2011, but the group has since been stagnant.
“Our government representatives, when they’re on international stages, they say all these beautiful things about ending violence perpetrated against LGBTI people,” said Malaza.