Pretoria — The Department of Home Affairs has urged members of the public who may have been discriminated by its officials for being transgender or intersex to report such cases.
This after the department took note of suggestions that its officials may be discriminating against transgender and intersex persons by refusing to issue them with the necessary identity documents that recognise their gender status. This follows on a presentation by Intersex South Africa and Gender Dynamix to the Home Affairs portfolio committee meeting on Monday.
"The department urges members of the public who may have thus been affected should not hesitate to report such officials to the highest authority within the department. Our officials have been duly trained to be humane, caring and responsive in delivering quality services to the people," spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said on Tuesday.
"With respect to the specific case reported in the media, the department will investigate the matter and if any official is found to have violated the code of conduct and indeed our constitution, disciplinary action will be taken."
Media reported on Tuesday that it was suggested by Home Affairs officials to a woman born with ambiguous genitalia that she go for surgery as a condition for having an identity.
The department said it was unacceptable for any official to discriminate against any person on the basis of colour, race, religion or gender. He said the department was enjoined by the constitution to respect the rights of all citizens as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
"Any official of the department who does not conform to the provisions of our constitution in this regard has no place in the department," he said, adding that the department welcomed the two organisations having raised concerns.
The department recognised that without a form of identity, life may come to a standstill.
"As a department, it is our duty to come to the assistance of those affected in a manner that they too, can together with their compatriots enjoy the benefits of a better life for all. As things stand, Section 7.2 of the Births and Deaths Act 51 of 1992, recognises the rights of a citizen to change his/her gender status (in cases where parents were responsible for the registration of wrong gender of a child), provided a doctors certificate is produced confirming the gender of the applicant. In this regard forms 526, available at home affairs offices, must be completed and accompanied by an amount of R70.
"With regard to transgender persons, the law requires that such applicants for change in gender status must produce two letters from the referring doctor and the specialist who would have performed the operation before the gender status can be amended on the National Population Register," explained Mamoepa.
The department added that it would welcome an opportunity to interact with the two organisations and other similar ones to find an amicable resolution to the issue.