Comment: South Africa’s gay human rights disgrace

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners member Cobus is disgusted that South Africa didn’t sign the UN decleration on equal rights of LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, intersexed and questioning) people

On the 18th December 2008 a declaration supporting the equal human rights of LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, intersexed and questioning) people was read out at the UN General Assembly in New York. It affirms the principle of universality: that all human beings, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity, are entitled to equal dignity and respect. No-one should be subject to violence, harassment, discrimination or abuse, solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It was finally signed and supported by 66 countries around the world. South Africa was NOT one of them.

Instead, South Africa chose to side with despots of human rights such as the Vatican and numerous Muslim theocracies who follow policies which victimize LGBTQI people and condemn them to death by execution. As well as those blatantly homophobic and fascist African countries such as Uganda – who have taken to outlawing homosexuality and persecuting diversity.

It is rather disconcerting that the only country in Africa to show support for equality and human rights chose to ignore calls by LGBTQI groups and the weight of conscience applied by voices from around the civilized world. They ignored the issue as if it never existed.

It is an affront to South Africans with a clear understanding of issues surrounding equal civil rights inthat the representatives of our government could in a radio interview today attempt to transfer their complicity in this matter by pointing fingers at other countries. Claiming that human rights activists should rather tackle “bigger issues” like the USA’s Guantanamo Bay human rights violation allegations, than criticising South Africa for “having principles”. Such a brass faced statement should make fair minded South Africans wonder what exactly these “principles” are and whether they should start applying for a new passport.

While this UN declaration carries no legally binding implications for the governments who ratified it, the choice to not support it simply adds to the repugnance of the South African government’s emerging disdain for its own non-heterosexual citizens.

Here they had an ideal opportunity to stand up for justice, equality and all the things that make our country a beacon of light in the dark mass of ignorance and unjust persecution on the continent. It could allowed us to speak as a voice of reason in the face of institutionalised bigotry and despotism.

Instead they chose to stand with the human rights abusers and deliver a resounding slap in the face of not only every LGBTQI citizen of South Africa – but to every LGBTQI person in the world.

It is therefore a major concern to us which path South Africa will be following after the 2009 elections. Considering the homophobic utterances of Mr Zuma and his cronies, the concerns of gay citizens in South Africa now seem validated, even compounded by this disgrace.

The government of the day has therefore – very publicly – shown where its interests lie; and following this incident it certainly does not seem to share our interests as fellow citizens of South Africa.

I therefore urge all South African voters to ensure they vote according to their consciences in the coming 2009 General Election – and above all not to vote for parties who show no interest in LGBTQI equality and instead vote for any other party who does. Contrary to popular belief there are still a few of those left in South Africa.

This article has been edited from the version submitted on

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