Thursday, May 3, 2012

SA Govt Body Discusses Removal Of Sexual Orientation From Constitution


An article in the Beeld newspaper yesterday explains that there is a move in government encouraging the removal of sexual orientation protection clauses from the SA Constitution. Not to say "I told you so", but I've been warning about this eventuality for the past 5 years. 

The fact that there is a government body with power over the Constitution giving serious consideration to un-Constitutional suggestions which would not only violate the human rights of a significant portion of SA citizens - but would also stand in contradiction to several important UN mandates on human right as well, and is cause for significant concern indeed. It would set in motion a cascade-effect that would collapse the culture of human rights protections for numerous communities.

http://www.beeld.com/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/Koukusse-bekyk-gay-en-eiendomsreg-20120502 (click the translate button to get the gist of the article in English) - a later English version of the article from News24: http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Politics/Land-gay-rights-up-for-discussion-20120503

"Eweneens het die Nasionale Huis van Tradisionele Leiers se voorstel oor hoofstuk 2 van die Grondwet groot implikasies vir veral die regte van gay mense, insluitend diegene wat kinders aangeneem het en wat in burgerlike vennootskappe staan. 

Die voorstel behels dat seksuele oriƫntasie as afdeling van die Handves van Menseregte geskrap word."

"The National House of Traditional Leaders's suggestion about Chapter 2 of the Constitution has great implications especially for the rights of gay people, including those who have adopted children and who are in civil unions.

The suggestion is that sexual orientation, as a section, be scrapped from the Bill of Rights."

The Traditional Leaders Bill which recently made the news, aims to invalidate the sexual orientation protections in the Constitution in areas under their control, in order to allow traditional leaders to discriminate against their community members on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender.

This is an attempt to strip our community of equal protections under the law and to facilitate persecution and discriminatory behavior under the thin excuse of "traditional values" - some of which are in plain violation of the values of a human rights oriented society and Constitution.

This development indicates that they intend to extend this war on gay/gender rights across the board. The fact that the evaluation body has not rejected this unconstitutional move out of hand as it did before with previous suggestions, is of grave concern to our community and to human rights advocates.

Imagine that a group of right wing Afrikaners suggested the invalidation of clauses in the Constitution protecting against discrimination on the basis of race, and only in certain areas under their influence? I am sure that such a move would result in howls of protest and would be dismissed without any hesitation. The same principle applies here - and perhaps you can understand then, why I find this to be so offensive.

Either people are equal under the law, or they aren't. You cant invalidate the protections of the Constitution over an endangered minority in certain areas just to advance the interests of a cultural tradition which has no respect for the human rights of that minority. 

To do so would create a dangerous precedent - and one which other religious extremist or radical groups, would seek to exploit, or to copy.

All of this I might add, is in the face of "corrective rapes" being inflicted on gay women in rural and impoverished black areas, as well as other issues, such as the President's appointment of a gay-hating former journalist with outstanding judgments against him to the post of SA Ambassador to Uganda - a country which wanted to pass a law which would institute genocide of gay and transgender people. The SA government has also failed for the past 20 years to extradite and bring to justice individuals who committed crimes against humanity against gay people during the apartheid years, and who fled overseas to avoid the inquiries that brought people like Wouter Basson to trial on race issues. 


Hate crimes pertaining to race are dealt with swiftly and immediately, but hate crimes pertaining to sexual orientation or gender identity drag on for years and rarely deliver satisfactory outcomes.


It's clear that in this country, there is no justice if you are gay or transgender, even with the protections in the SA Constitution. Imagine what it would be like here without them.

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