South Africa: Minister Nkoana-Mashabane Must Speak Out Against Anti-Gay Legislation


The Ugandan Parliament has this week reintroduced a bill that proposes a
mandatory death penalty for gay "repeat offenders". This cannot be condoned -
tacitly or otherwise - by the South African government.

It is time for the Minister of International Relations, Maite Nkoana-
Mashabane, to speak out against state-sanctioned human rights violations
against homosexuals on our continent.

I will today write to the Minister to urge that South African representatives
at the African Union actively campaign to amend the African Charter on Human
and Peoples' Rights. As it stands, the Charter does not list sexual orientation
as a basis on which an individual may not be discriminated against, thus
rendering it an ineffective instrument for keeping signatory states accountable
for the violation of gay rights.

I will also be submitting parliamentary questions to Minister Nkoana-Mashabane
to ask for clarification on South Africa's position on the violation of gay
rights by African Union member states. Homosexuality remains illegal in 37
African countries.

Despite our progressive Constitution, which protects the rights of all South
Africans regardless of sexual orientation, our government does nothing to push
our own human rights agenda abroad. The President failed to use a state visit
to Nigeria in December last year to raise concerns about anti-gay legislation
in that country, and even deployed a diplomat known for his deeply prejudicial
views on homosexuality as our ambassador to Uganda.

Taking a stand on these issues on the continent would go a long way toward
dealing with discrimination against homosexuals at home. Lesbians in South
Africa, for example, face the threat of brutal sexual attacks, known as
"corrective" rape. A 2011 Human Rights Watch report found that lesbians and
transgender men living in South Africa face "extensive discrimination and
violence in their daily lives".

If our government is not willing to speak out against violations of human
rights based on sexual orientation in the rest of the African continent, it
will make little headway in confronting such violence locally.

Pubblicato da Lorenzo Bernini