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African Civil Society Organisations demand a date for the regional Seminar on Ending Violence based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

13 June 2014

Johannesburg – South Africa

African civil society organisations have demanded that Honourable Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of   International Relations and Cooperation in South Africa, sets a date for the Regional Seminar on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression in Africa. This follows repeated communication with Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, to follow through on the commitment the Government of South Africa made to convene this Seminar at which African States, National Human Rights Institutions and civil society organisations can dialogue on the issue of violence and discriminatory laws and practices targeting individuals based on their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The continued delays in convening this seminar raises questions about South Africa’s commitment to leadership on ending violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We can no longer ignore this on-going crisis in South Africa and the rest of the continent. African states must begin a dialogue on ways to bring this modern expression of inhumanity to an end.” Ingrid Lynch of The Love, Not Hate Campaign said.

In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed Resolution 17/19 on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity sponsored by South Africa and Brazil. The Resolution expressed ‘grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.’ It also mandated the High Commissioner for Human Rights to commission a study documenting discriminatory law and practices and violence committed against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and how international human rights law may be used to end violence and other related human rights violations. Following the publication of the Report of this study, regional dialogues have been held in other regions of the world, except Africa, to discuss the findings of the study and receive recommendations on follow up processes. Despite shaping this Regional process of consultation and later committing to host the Regional Seminar, the Government of South Africa has refused to follow through with this commitment.

According to Dawn Cavanagh, of the Coalition of African Lesbians, “South Africa’s seemingly deliberate delay in honouring its commitment to host the Regional Seminar means that ordinary Africans affected by this kind of violence and discrimination are denied the important opportunity to have their realities discussed and addressed by their States, who have the primary obligation of protecting its citizens from violence and human rights violations.”

“As the High Commissioner’s Report indicated, violence and human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity is occurring in all regions of the world. The Regional Seminars are an important step to forging an international response to this crisis which has real costs in human lives, including in Africa. South Africa’s failure to convene the African Regional Seminar is holding up a process that could potentially ensure a comprehensive, context-sensitive international response to ending violence and human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression”, says Kene Esom, of the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights.

In October 2013, the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) and the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) published the report Violence Based on Real or Perceived Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Africa, which detailed types and cases of violence and other human rights targeting individuals based on the real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity across Africa.

ENDS

For more information contact:

  1. African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR): 00 27 11 482 4630 or email Kene Esom at kene@amsher.net
  2. Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL): 00 27 11 403 0004/7 or email Fikile Vilakazi at  fikile@cal.org.za
  3. Love Not Hate Campaign: 00 27 12 430 3272 or email Ingrid Lynch at advocacy@triangle.org.za
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