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MEDIA STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION TO URGE GOVERNMENT TO SIGN JOINT STATEMENT ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY CURRENTLY UNDER DISCUSSION AT THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

Date: Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The South African Human Rights Commission (Commission) has written to the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Ms Nkoana- Mashamaite to urge the government to sign the statement on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity which is currently under discussion at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

In its letter the Commission Chairperson Adv Lawrence Mushwana asserts that the signing of the statement provides South Africa with an opportunity to take a stand internationally on violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Communities.

Adv Mushwana says that the Commission is concerned about the recent reports of escalation of violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Communities persons in South Africa and on the continent.

As a national institution mandated to ensure the promotion, protection and monitoring of human rights in South Africa, the Commission has agreed to sign onto the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) joint statement on ending acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The current suggestion of a resolution at the UN, by South Africa, shows a pattern of behaviour reminiscent of similar discussions in New York. The Commission urges the South African government to be unambiguous in its commitment to protect the freedom of those who should have the right to choose any sexual orientation and that any failure to articulate such an unambiguous stance would not be in keeping with our constitutional framework.

Subsequent to the discussions taking place in New York on this matter, Adv Mushwana and Deputy Minister of International relations and Cooperation Marius Fransman met and the Deputy Minister gave an undertaking that the statement was in fact going to be signed by today.

“Given the international legal framework and South Africa’s obligation, it is incumbent upon South African government to uphold the South African Constitution and to affirm its commitment to non-discrimination by signing onto the statement protecting LGTBI rights within the international community.” he added.

ENDS
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