Victory For LGBTI South Africans as Constitutional Committee Says Gay Rights are Safe

Sexual orientation and gender identity will remain fully protected by the South African Constitution

By Melanie Nathan, September 09, 2012.

Victorious news for the South African LGBTI community.  It would seem that the anti-gay traditionalists  in the South African Parliamentary system  have failed to ditch LGBTI equality in South Africa.  The South African Constitutional Review Committee of Parliament released a statement saying it strongly denies that it had accepted a proposal to remove sexual orientation protections from the South African Bill of Rights. It is clear that the work of grassroots LGBTI activists played a huge role in the release of this strong and supportive  statement.

“The Speaker of the National Assembly has referred a letter – from the South African Constitution Protection Coalition*  that was brought to his attention – to the Joint Constitutional Review Committee (JCRC). (South African Government Press release)

The authors of this letter claim, among other things, that the JCRC has accepted a proposal to remove sexual orientation as a ground for discrimination in terms of the Bill of Rights contained in the Constitution.

The JCRC places on record that it has at no stage agreed to a proposal to weaken or amend rights relating to sexual orientation contained in the Constitution. Statements made outside the Committee cannot and should not be attributed to the JCRC.

The Committee regards all the discriminatory grounds listed in our Bill of Rights to be of critical importance for the country’s democracy, which is based on a human rights culture.

The Committee will not entertain efforts to remove or weaken any of these critical human rights and ask of all South Africans to work together in building a non-racial, non-sexist society where discrimination on the prohibited grounds, including sexual orientation, has no place.

Andre Gaum, an ANC MP, distanced the Committee from remarks made by MP traditional Chief Patekile Holomisa, whom we accused on this website of having a conflict of interests, in his role a a Traditional chief, a member of the ANC and Chairperson on the Review Committee, seeking to remove sexual orientation and gender identity as protected against discrimination, from the South African Constitution. Guam noted that remarks out of committee should not be attributed to the Committee.

The Council of Traditional Leaders had petitioned the Committee earlier this year, requesting a debate on the repeal of this constitutional provisions protecting sexual orientation rights.

The ANC has also previously distanced itself from remarks of its member,Chief Holomisa, when he was quoted earlier this year stating that the ANC and most South Africans did not care about the protection of LGBTI rights.

We noted in the past articles all the hats worn by Holomisa and his attempts to negate LGBTI rights in South Africa:- he is Chief (Contralesa) Patekile Holomisa, senior ANC MP, and now co-chairman of the committee. He is also the head of Contralesa, the National Congress of Traditional Leaders. Now it would seem in addition to the ANC distancing itself (previously reported) from Holomisa’s  anti-gay remarks, we have the SA Constitutional Committee doing the same jive.

This caused a group of South African LGBTI activists, initiated by The Gay Flag of South Africa,  to form a coalition of organizations, the South African Constitution Protection Coalition,* mentioned in the statement above, resulting in numerous national LGBT protest marches.  In articles such as those which appear on this site and through petitions, letters and protests, the South African LGBTI community made their voices heard, and petitioned the ANC, to refrain from considering or debating LGBTI rights, referring angrily to Holomisa’s position.

LGBTI activists, including me in numerous articles on this BLOG, had taken the position that the increase of homophobic related crimes in South Africa could be attributed to the messaging of the traditional chiefs such as Holomisa on the issue of LGBTI rights.

Apparently Max Sisulu, Speaker of the National Assembly, saw it as a conflict of interest and noted the conflict of interests and requested Holomisa  to withdraw as co-chairman of the committee when considering this issue.

Holomisa seems to be objecting to the request for his withdrawal as he noted apparently that he had never heard of a  MP being asked to withdraw him to a committee based on his personal opinion, he stated:-

“The committee is not a tribunal or court. “

The South African organization, The Gay Flag of South Africa, ought to be applauded for its persistent and leadership role in reaching this point.  They relentlessly pursued the ANC, South African Government on the issue, after the organization had led a coalition (South African Constitution Protection Coalition* ) of LGBTI groups in protest. Over 20,000 signatures were obtained from change.org and Avaaz and presented to the South African Government.  The efforts of The SA Gay Flag organization resulted in a joint public Press Conference with the ANC which came out in support of LGBTI rights last week and now this news seems to top the efforts.

The DA seems noticeably absent on the issue, with one mediocre statement, no action and a negative comment by one of its own gay Members of Parliament.

In my opinion the ANC should be seeking the firing of Holomisa -as it seems to me he has absolutely no respect for ANC values of full equality for all,  or for  the South African Constitution which protects same. As I said before in a previous article, “Holomisa spits on the Constitution.”

– The good news however is it would seem the whole idea of discussing the revocation of LGBTI rights has been rejected. The bad news is that homophobia in South Africa is very serious and the hopeful news is that the ANC  and government have  promised to take measures to change that-

https://oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/nkosi-patekile-holomisa-not-fit-to-serve-the-south-african-constitution/

https://oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/south-african-traditional-leaders-insult-gay-community-with-consitutional-review

Join the South African Constitution Protection Coalition  Face Book Page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/244760192298346/

*the South African Constitution Protection Coalition was initiated by Melanie Nathan, Huge Brockman, Henry Bantjes and Cobus Fourie and  soon adopted by the Gay Flag of South Africa and other local LGBTI organizations in South Africa.


7 thoughts on “Victory For LGBTI South Africans as Constitutional Committee Says Gay Rights are Safe

  1. This is an amazing thing but there is still a long way to going terms of tackling homophobia within the government. There have been so many instances where MPs in their ‘personal capacity’ say very ignorant things.

    1. True and it is up to community to keep them on track – claiming constitutional rights and living them is imperative – all must do their BIT!

  2. I thank u 4 fighting for our gay and lesbian rights in SA! After reading this article u guys have bow made me realise that evrything is possible in the new SA! I however need some assistance in taking this fight to protect our rights and freedom to the Klein Karoo and to other smalle town I Western Cape! As a Gay man in Oudtshoorn I find it very difficult to get Sponsorship in surrounding areas to make our voice heard by organising the Klein Karoo’s 1st Pink Ostrich Parade (Gay and Lesbian Festival) in Oudtshoorn! Due 2 a lack of funding this also causes more and more Gays and lesbian not to have the chance in participating in this “Cause” to make surrounding Communities aware of what a free democratic SA means!!! So if there is any chance that I can get some guidance from you who are more experienced than me I would really appreciate it!

    Hope to hear from you soon!

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