|Lame Charmaine Olebile, Pan Africa ILGA Regional Communications|
Petition courtesy of Coalition of Africa Lesbians Almost a year ago, the South African Government committed to the Human Rights Council that it would organise a Regional Seminar on Ending Violence based on Sexual Orientation and gender Identity and Expression in Africa. This Seminar is a key part of a global process to consult with all regions of the world on ending violence, other violations and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
Other regions held these Seminars between January and April 2013, enabling states, civil society and National Human Rights Institutions to engage in focused dialogue on these issues. The outcomes documents of each of these Regional Seminars are key in developing a shared global agenda to move forward the process of addressing these violations and discrimination.
The African continent, a year later, has STILL not yet held its Regional Seminar. South Africa, on behalf of the Africa Region had committed to hosting this Regional Seminar. As Civil Society Organisations in South Africa, we have repeatedly approached the Directorate for International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) for requesting that they set a date and fulfill their commitment. Our efforts have been met with silence and more empty promises. The time has come to stop requesting, and to start demanding accountability from the South African government.
As civil society organisations, human rights defenders and activists, we are concerned about the increasing attacks we face on our right to autonomy over our bodies and lives as African people. We note with increasing concern the violations of the rights of and discrimination against people due to their real and perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. These violations and discrimination are often reflected in the law across many countries in Africa where people are criminalised based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Policies, institutional frameworks and practices of state and non-state actors are in place in most African countries that enable, provoke and even justify violence based on these factors and realities.
The violence must be stopped. Murder, rape, the forcing out of home, school, community and workplaces by people on this continent based on their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity an expression cannot be allowed to continue.
African states have a responsibility to protect all those within their borders from attack, violence, other violations and discrimination. No one deserves to be subjected to violence.
The Seminar on Ending Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression in Africa is an important step in the process of engaging African states, National Human Rights Institutions and Civil Society Organisations in dialogue to end this violence.
CALL TO ACTION AND LEADERSHIP!
We call on the government of South Africa to set the date for the Regional Seminar on Ending Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression in Africa and to begin the process of organising and hosting this Seminar in keeping with their commitment to do so. We demand accountability!
1. Please find attached a Press Release that we are sending out. PLEASE CIRCULATE to your local media and news organisations as well, for maximum reach. Let us know who you have sent it to so that we can follow up and be available for comment if necessary…
2. Please also sign our online petition here and circulate to all your friends, allies and networks. Every time a person signs the petition, the Minister of International Cooperation receives and email alerting them to the action. This will be a powerful way to make a statement.
3. We will also send out guidelines on how to get involved in the related online campaign which we are calling #DemandAccountabilitySA. We have set up a twitter account and a Facebook page which will go live in the next few hours. Engage with us there too!