Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
17 June 2011

Lesbian and Gay Equality Project welcomes SA’s UN moves on sexual orientation

LESBIAN AND GAY EQUALITY PROJECT (LGEP)

PRESS STATEMENT: LGEP WELCOMES ROLE PLAYED BY SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT AT THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY

The Lesbian and gay Equality Project (LGEP) congratulates the South African government for sponsoring a historic resolution on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. South Africa will present this resolution for voting to Member States of the United Nations (UN) at the UN Human Rights Council session today in Geneva.

This historic resolution affirms the universality of human rights, and notes concern about acts of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a study on violence and discrimination on these grounds, and calls for a panel discussion to be held at the Human Rights Council to discuss the findings of the study in a constructive and transparent manner, and to consider appropriate follow-up.

This resolution is consistent with the South African Constitution, South African legislation and numerous judgments of South African Courts. The South African Bill of Rights explicitly and proudly prohibits discrimination, both by the state and by private persons, on the ground of sexual orientation. The LGEP is also pleased with the progressive role played by the South African government in the current round of discussions on sexual orientation at the UN Human Rights Council. This is a welcome departure from past statements and positions advanced by representatives of the South African government at the Council and other international fora.

The resolution lays a strong foundation for South African to advance and promote the content of the resolution in the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The South African role in African multi-lateral institutions is critical given the extremely difficult environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, inter-sexed and queer (LGBTIQ) people and their defenders face in many countries of our continent. Many LGBTIQ people live in continual fear of violent attack and experience discrimination. The resolution gives an international foundation for protection to one of the world’s most vulnerable minorities.

The LGEP also ackgnowledges the role played by several civil society organisations that actively lobbied for this resolution. This includes the Benoni-based Coalition of African Lesbians, the Cape Town-based Black Sash, Freedom and Roam Uganda, Sexuality Policy Watch (Brazil), International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (USA), Global Action for Trans* Equality (USA), International Commission of Jurists (Switzerland), Human Rights Watch (USA) and many others.

There are still a number of countries that are not in support of the statement. Yet, it is very important that this resolution is adopted. If passed, this will be the first UN resolution ever to bring specific focus to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We therefore support ongoing efforts by many activists engaging different UN member states to support the resolution tomorrow.

ENDS

FOR COMMENTS, CONTACT:

Mazibuko K. Jara – 083 651 0271

Phumi Mthethwa – 072 959 9194

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