Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Ronald Lamola, says that although the country has made strides to promote and protect the human rights of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual transgender Queer, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) community, the true attainment of these ideals still remains elusive for many in that community.
He was speaking at the LGBTQIA+ Inclusion and Empowerment Workshop held at Constitutional Hill on Wednesday.
“We live in a constitutional democracy which strives to ensure freedom, human dignity and equality for all – yet for LGBTIQ+ persons, these ideals are unattainable for so long as they face discrimination and violence in their daily lives,” the Minister said.
He highlighted that this year alone, there have reportedly been at least 20 murders of members of the LGBTQIA+ community in hate crimes throughout the country.
“On numerous occasions in our communities, we see people choosing violence instead of embracing and celebrating diversity. I urge our communities to reflect on what prompts them to respond with such violence, intolerance and disdain to people who are of a different sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sexual characteristics.
“We cannot claim to want human rights for ourselves, but deny it for others. Let us…recommit ourselves to the promotion and protection of human rights for all, especially for those in the LGBTIQ+ communities,” Lamola said.
The Minister said government has made a “number of interventions” to safeguard the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Lamola highlighted that one example is his department’s Rapid Response Team which “seeks to track and monitor hate crimes committed against LGBTIQ+ persons”.
Another measure highlighted by Lamola is the Hate Speech Bill.
“The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, which is currently before the National Assembly, has the capacity to, once enacted, not only ensure that justice is dispensed in matters of this nature, but also aims to prevent these attacks before they occur.”
Lamola added that his department together with the Department of Home Affairs and other civil organisations will be holding a dialogue to address amongst others, “Trans and Intersex policies for Legal Gender Recognition and ending Intersex Genital Mutilation in South Africa”.
“As our democracy matures, it has become evident that our policies are not in line with global practices when it comes to protecting the human rights of Transgender and Intersex (T&I) persons.
“A pivotal outcome of the conference is to draft four policy briefs that focuses on challenges faced by Transgender and Intersex persons in South Africa,” he said.
Source: South African Government News Agency