South African opposition speaks out against Uganda’s anti-gay bill

Ian Davidson, an opposition Democratic Alliance MP and Shadow Minister for International Relations and Cooperation has urged the South African government to condemn the re-introduction of Uganda’s anti-gay bill in parliament.

Davidson called on his parliamentary opposite number, the Minister of International Relations, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, “to speak out against state-sanctioned human rights violations against homosexuals on our continent.”

The Ugandan Parliament this week reintroduced a bill that proposes a mandatory death penalty for gay “repeat offenders”.

In a press release Davidson said, “This cannot be condoned – tacitly or otherwise – by the South African government.”

He said, “I will today write to the Minister to urge that South African representatives at the African Union actively campaign to amend the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. As it stands, the Charter does not list sexual orientation as a basis on which an individual may not be discriminated against, thus rendering it an ineffective instrument for keeping signatory states accountable for the violation of gay rights.”

He added, “I will also be submitting parliamentary questions to Minister Nkoana-Mashabane to ask for clarification on South Africa’s position on the violation of gay rights by African Union member states. Homosexuality remains illegal in 37 African countries.”

Davidson said that despite South Africa’s progressive Constitution, which protects the rights of all South Africans regardless of sexual orientation, “Our government does nothing to push our own human rights agenda abroad.”

He pointed out that President Jacob Zuma “failed to use a state visit to Nigeria in December last year to raise concerns about anti-gay legislation in that country, and even deployed a diplomat known for his deeply prejudicial views on homosexuality as our ambassador to Uganda.”

Davidson said, “Taking a stand on these issues on the continent would go a long way toward dealing with discrimination against homosexuals at home.”

He added, “Lesbians in South Africa, for example, face the threat of brutal sexual attacks, known as ‘corrective’ rape. A 2011 Human Rights Watch report found that lesbians and transgender men living in South Africa face ‘extensive discrimination and violence in their daily lives’.”

Davidson concluded, “If our government is not willing to speak out against violations of human rights based on sexual orientation in the rest of the African continent, it will make little headway in confronting such violence locally.”

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