Op-Ed: South Africa must not separate human rights from LGBTI rights

Published: October 9, 2014

Daily Maverick
Shehnilla Mohamed

South Africa must be applauded for voting in favour of the Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) adopted by the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva last week.
But while the resolution has been hailed as a significant step forward in the fight against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the battle is far from over.
In many parts of the world, and especially Africa, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people face hostility, discrimination and danger.
At least 80 countries still criminalise consensual same-sex intimacy and 37 of these are in Africa. In five countries, the death penalty can be imposed.
Even in South Africa, whose democracy was founded on the basis of human dignity, equality and the advancement of human rights, and whose constitution expressly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBTI citizens are not safe. Even as the issues were being discussed in Geneva, South African authorities reported the brutal rape and murder of yet another lesbian, Thembelihe ‘Lihle’ Sokela (28). And this is a country that has legal safeguards for this community.

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