7th November 2016, ACCESS CHAPTER 2 rejects DIRCO’s decision to sign onto an African Group letter, calling for the suspension of the UN Human Rights Council’s appointment of the Special Rapporteur on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

South Africa as member of the African Group has signed onto a statement delivered by Botswana at the Third Committee of the General Assembly in support of a position suspending the operation of the first independent expert on SOGI, Mr. Vitit Mutarbhorn appointed by the Human Rights Council. The letter by the African Group which has been surprisingly signed onto by South Africa departs sharply from the South African Constitution’s commitment to universal human rights. Some of the more egregious statements in the letter need to be highlighted in full.

“We (African Group) are even more disturbed at the attempt to focus on certain persons on the grounds of their sexual interests and behaviours, while ignoring that intolerance and discrimination regrettably exist in various parts of the world, be it on the basis of colour, race, sex or religion, to mention only a few. These attempts undermine not only the intent of the drafters and signatories to various human rights instruments, but also seriously jeopardize the entire international human rights framework as they create divisions”.

“The adoption of the resolution 32/2 entitled ‘Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity’ in June 2016 is a clear illustration of these attempts. The Group is therefore concerned that non-internationally agreed notions such as sexual orientation and gender identity are given attention, to the detriment of issues of paramount importance such as the right to development and the racism agenda”.

“We are alarmed that the Council is delving into matters which fall essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of States counter to the commitment in the United Nations Charter to respect the sovereignty of States and the principle of non-intervention. More importantly, it arises owing to the ominous usage of the two notions: sexual orientation and gender identity. We wish to state that those two notions are not and should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments”.

“In this regard, the African Group has tabled a resolution to defer the consideration and action on Human Rights Council resolution 32/2 of 30 June, 2016 in order to engage in further discussion and consultations on the legality of the creation of this mandate. We therefore call for the suspension of the activities of the appointed Independent Expert pending the determination of this issue.”

South Africa’s endorsement of this letter betrays the South African Constitution, the African Charter, and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Access Chapter 2 therefore calls on SA Delegation, South African Government to:
- Act in alignment with the SA constitution, in particular its recognition, promotion and protection of human rights and non-discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation
- Reject any attempt at undermining the mandate of the SOGI Independent Expert as resolved by the UNHRC
- Resist and reject the resolution - which is anti-human rights in its language and questions the mandate of the Human Rights Council
- Uphold the integrity and independence of the Human Rights Council and its decisions
- Reject the Africa Group solidarity at the cost of lives

South Africa signed on the recent Ekurhuleni Declaration to calling on All African States to implement the practical solution to address violence on the basis of percieved sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

We call on all Citizens and stakeholders to challenge South African Government.

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