6 December 2012

South Africa: Deputy Minister of Justice Condemns Hate Crimes Against Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender and Inter-Sex People

press release

The Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development reiterated government's commitment to fight all forms of hate crimes and gender based violence, including violence against, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) people.

"We are committed to fighting all forms of violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We condemn hate crimes, including so-called "corrective rape" in the strongest terms."

Referring to a judgement delivered by the late former Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson in the case of S v Makwanyane that declared the death penalty unconstitutional:

"The rights to life and dignity are the most important of all human rights, and the source of all other personal rights in Chapter Three. By committing ourselves to a society founded on the recognition of human rights we are required to value these two rights above all others."

Nel said, "Gender based violence and hate crimes are a direct assault on both the right to life and human dignity and all of us have a duty to combat them."

He was speaking on accessibility of justice to victims of sexual offenses and the impact of specialised courts as part of a panel discussion on "Gender Based Violence and HIV: Finding Solutions Together" hosted by the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities and UNAIDS.

Referring to baseline research conducted by the task team against hate crimes against LGBTI people established by Justice Minister, Jeff Radebe, he said:

"The research report revealed that people of South Africa widely condemn any kind of violence perpetrated against LGBTI persons. Although many respondents showed a degree of tolerance, a majority of them were still reluctant to accept homosexual relationships for various perceptions and beliefs. This response therefore supported the dire need for more basic public education to address many questions that seemingly hinder the acceptance of the LGBTI persons."

Nel said that, "The Department continues to sensitise the court personnel of the dynamics involved when dealing with LGBTI cases. These sessions are mainly aimed at dismantling stereotypes and mindsets that infringe the constitutional rights of the LGBTI persons as they engage with the court system."

Recently, the Department participated for the second time in the annual Gay Pride March in Johannesburg with an information stall and a statement by Deputy Minister Nel.

Speaking on the need for courts dedicated to hearing cases involving sexual offenses Deputy Minister Nel said:

"There is a need to conduct an investigation to determine how other dedicated service models, such as the Thuthuzela Care Centres could significantly strengthen the functioning of these courts. A legal framework is required to define and guide the inter-sectoral coordination of these services and their resources to establish a victim-centred criminal justice system that is quick, effective and responsive to the special needs of the victim of sexual offenses."

Other members of the panel were Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Patrick Shai of Brothers for Life, Phumeza Mafani of the NPA and Mapaseka Letsike , deputy chairperson of the South African National Aids Council (SANAC).

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