18 January 2013

South Africa: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development Requests the SA Human Rights Commission to Investigate Reports of Unfair Discrimination By the Creare Training Institute in Bloemfontein

press release

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development today requested the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate whether the Creare Training Centre in Bloemfontein, Free State, is acting in violation of Section 9 of the Constitution and the provisions of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 2000 (Act 4 of 2000), by unfairly discriminating against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

In a letter to the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission, Adv Mabedle Mushwana, the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr Andries Nel, requested the SAHRC to use its extensive powers in terms of the Constitution and Secions 7(1)(c) and 9 of SA Human Rights Commission Act, 1994 (Act 54 of 1994) to investigate documentary evidence received by the Department after media reports in this regard.

In a document purportedly published by the Creare Training Institute it is stated under the heading, "Relational Etiquete (sic)":

"Any existing relationships or planned relationships between male and female Creare students will be submitted to Creare leadership. According to the Statement of Faith in the Constitution of Creare training Centre, we believe in the principle of relationship fundamental to personal sexual orientation being founded on that of heterosexuality. Therefore any person wanting to pursue a lifestyle contrary and is not willing to be discipled (sic) in this regard, will not be permitted to continue further studies or lecture. We offer ministry to help people that want to change their sexual orientation A.E Homosexuality & Lesbianism to heterosexuality."

In May 2011 the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr Jeff Radebe, established a Task Team to deal with discrimination and violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Inter-sex (LGBTI) persons.

The notion that a person's sexual orientation can be changed at will, or by compulsion, feeds the very same homophobic attitudes that encourage the criminal and abhorrent practice of so-called, "corrective rape."

Section 9(4) Constitution provides that no person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on the grounds of race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.

The Constitution provides that national legislation must be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination. This was done in with the passing of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 2000 (Act 4 of 2000).

In terms of the PEPUDA those affected by unfair discrimination can approach the Equality Court for redress. In 2009, the Minister of Justice announced that, in additional to High Courts, all Magistrates Courts in the country would function as equality courts.

The Department of Justice is also finalising a National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance as well as a Policy Framework on Hate Crimes that will lay the basis for legislation criminalising hate speech and related crimes.

Both the Minister and the Deputy Minister of Justice and other government leaders have condemned homophobia, unfair discrimination and violence against people on the basis of their sexual orientation from various platforms.

During the Justice Department's budget debate in May 2012 the Minister Radebe said:

"We are taking strong measures to deal with (violence against) Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) persons with a view to eliminating sexual offences perpetrated on the basis of sexual orientation. I wish to encourage communities in all other parts of our country to report to the law enforcement agencies both homophobic hatred as well as the consequences of rape, as both must be rooted out from the social fibre of our communities. As we celebrate today's International Day Against Homophobia, we must urge all our people to embrace the tolerance that would enable the diverse society that our Constitution dictates."

Speaking in December 2012 Deputy Minister Nel said:

"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. 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."

We trust the SA Human Rights Commission will be able to use its extensive powers to investigate this matter and to take the necessary and appropriate action.

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