As South Africa’s main political party prepares for its 52nd congress, LGBT groups have issued a manifesto asking for a clear commitment to equality.

The African National Congress, which will meet this weekend to decide the next leader of the party and its future political stance, has been asked by the Joint Workers Group to uphold the Constitution’s promise of “freedom, justice and equality for all.”

The ANC has been South Africa’s governing party since 1994. The current party leader Thabo Mbeki is the country’s President.

Vanessa Ludwig, leader of the LGBT organisation Triangle Project, said that the manifesto was meant to clarify LGBT requests and explain that homophobia and discrimination are still wide-spread in the country.

“There’s a lot of gay bashing and murders and nothing has been said about it by the country’s leadership,” she said.

“This gives people licence to be homophobic. The policy documents to be discussed at the conference say nothing about LGBT people.”

The manifesto was issued on December 5th by LGBT activists, human rights activists, trade unions, and other groups from diverse backgrounds.

It calls on the ANC Conference to “fully and publicly affirm the rights of LGBT people as full and equal citizens.”

A series of points are listed in order to reach full gender equality.

They include:

* Publicly affirming that LGBT issues are part of gender issues “instead of the current silence in gender debates on LGBT issues, as well as address the hetero-sexist bias against LGBT issues”

* Committing to defend and protect human rights

* Addressing the needs of LGBT people in the policies on AIDS

* Integrating sexual orientation education in sexuality education in schools

* Taking effective action to end hate crimes against LGBT people

* Taking disciplinary action against ANC members that are homophobes.

In 1996 a new constitution was introduced in post-apartheid South Africa which outlawed discrimination on sexual orientation.

In 2006 it became the first African country to legalise gay marriage.

While the equality is formally guaranteed, LGBT groups have warned that especially in the less urbanised areas homophobia is still rampant.