Target: South African ruling parties, the National House of Traditional Leaders, South African government
Goal: To urge South Africa not to pass a bill that threatens the human rights of LGBT South Africans.
Lesbians, gay men and transgender people have continued to face violence and discrimination in South Africa regardless of the fact that the current constitution grants equal rights to all South Africans regardless of age, race, gender, political affiliation and sexual orientation. South Africa’s shift towards democracy has meant a lot for sexually marginalized South Africans because ‘sexual orientation’ was finally and rightfully included in constitutional statements granting equal rights to South Africans. However, a new bill threatens to undermine these securities. South Africa cannot allow this bill to pass if it is to undermine the human rights that so many South Africans have fought justly to acquire.
The traditional courts bill is South Africa’s newest attempt to reinstate and regularize the powers and roles of traditional leaders. Granting traditional leaders the sole authority to exact customary law in rural areas would prevent access to alternative forms of justice allotted by the institution of democracy, which would undermine the human rights of the victims of hate crimes (for example, crimes against LGBT individuals, who are still presently at risk for sexual and physical violence).
For example, the phenomenon otherwise known as ‘corrective rape’ continues to occur in South Africa, and few of the victims report the crime. ‘Corrective rape’ is when a man rapes a woman in order to ‘fix’ her or ‘cure’ her so that she will no longer feel sexual desire towards women. In fact, it is estimated that 10 lesbian women are raped daily in Cape Town alone. Corrective rape is just one example of the atrocities LGBT South Africans face. The fact that ‘corrective rape’ still regularly occurs, it is evident that more protection needs to be granted to LGBT South Africans, not less.
Many traditionalists see LGBT individuals as corrupted and sick. In fact, it has been recently very evident that the National House of Traditional Leaders (those that proposed the traditional courts bill in the first place) have blatantly opposed equal rights for LGBT South Africans. Instating the traditional courts bill would grant sole authority in many communities to traditional South African leaders that hold this belief.
The traditional courts bill threatens to undermine the human rights of LGBT individuals, which represents a backwards step away from democracy and, ultimately, equality in South Africa.
The traditional courts bill aims to reinstate customary law. Customary law provided that homosexuality was a crime punishable by imprisonment. The traditional courts bill cannot pass unless extreme revisions are made in which equality is ensured to all South Africans as it has been outlined in the South African constitution since 1996.
South Africa cannot allow the traditional courts bill to pass. Sign this petition if you support LGBT human rights in South Africa.
Dear South African ruling parties, the National House of Traditional Leaders, South African government,
The new traditional courts bill states very ambiguously that traditional court systems will be enacted in a way that is ‘in line with constitutional law’. This statement is vague, and it is clear that the National House of Traditional Leaders has been apt to oppose equal rights for LGBT people. South Africa forbids discrimination of the grounds of sexual orientation. This cannot change.
Instating the traditional courts bill, which would increase the power of traditional leaders in ‘traditional communities’ (especially in rural areas) undermines the human rights of LGBT individuals greatly. In fact, no where in the traditional courts bill is sexual orientation mentioned. The blatant act of leaving out this important clause which is key to bettering peace and understanding in South Africa is of utmost importance and must be addressed immediately before any such bill is passed.
The traditional courts bill has great potential in undermining the human rights of LGBT individuals in South Africa, many of which currently live in great fear of rape, persecution, hate crimes, and even death.
South Africa’s National House of Traditional Leaders must realize the necessisity of recognizing human rights for LGBT individuals. The South African government must either throw out or make great revisions to the traditional courts bill in order to ensure equal rights based on age, race, gender, political creed, language, opinion, and sexual orientation.
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