Government’s Position with regard to the Criminalisation of Homosexuality and Death Penalty for the Citizens of certain in African States; and Steps to be taken to lobby the United Nations Human Rights Council in light of its 2011 Resolution requesting a Study on Discrimination and Sexual Orientation

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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR WRITTEN REPLY

QUESTION NO: 254 (NW276E)

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER 2-2012 of 17 FEBRUARY 2012

Mr Davidson (DA) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:

  1. Whether her department has been informed of legislation in the African Union member state, Uganda, that proposes the death penalty for gay repeat offenders; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, why has the Government been silent in this regard;

  2. What steps will she take to lobby the United Nations Human Rights Council in light of its 2011  resolution requesting a study on discrimination and sexual orientation;

  3. Whether she will make a statement on the Government’s position with regard to the criminalisation of homosexuality in a number of African states with Nigeria and Uganda both considering legislative proposals that will impact the rights of homosexual citizens?

 REPLY

  1. While the Department of International Relations and Cooperation has not been formally informed of the Draft Bill proposing the death penalty in Uganda for repeat gay offenders, the Department is nevertheless aware of the proposal due to the media reports on the issue.  South Africa will not at this stage be making any statement with regard to proposed domestic legislation initiated in another country by a “private member” of the Ugandan Parliament for debate. South Africa, guided by its Constitution which guarantees the right to life, holds a strong view on the non-derogability of this right, under any circumstances. Guided by the Charter of the United Nations and the United Nations Convention on the Principles of International Law on friendly relations among states, South Africa also abides by the principles of non-interference in the domestic affairs of states and the sovereign equality of nations. Notwithstanding the afore-mentioned, the South African Government continues to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people worldwide. As part of the Government’s international obligations under international human rights law, South Africa similarly advocates for the principle of non-discrimination under any grounds, including sexual orientation at every opportunity in the multilateral and regional fora where these matters are discussed.

  2. The Department through the South African Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, has since the adoption of the South African initiated, United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 17/19, entitled ‘Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’ been engaged with all stakeholders and providing strategic direction on this initiative. These consultations have been inclusive, transparent and aimed at depoliticising the issue of sexual orientation in the context of the work of the Council, particularly taking into account the positions from other delegations that did not support the resolutions. Additionally, following the release of the report as well as the announcement of the names of the Panelists ahead of the March Session, there has been lobby action undertaken in Geneva as well as Pretoria, particularly with countries who share in the vision of the Government through this initiative. It is expected that the week of the High-Level Segment during the 19th Session of the Human Rights Council due to convene from 27 Feberuary-02 March will also be utilised by the South African delegation to continue engaging with other delegations in ensuring the success of the Panel which has been scheduled for  07 March 2012.

  3. In its engagement with the international human rights system, the Government of the Republic of South Africa outlines its policy positions in the area of human rights, guided by its Constitutional provisions. The South African Government fully endorses the principles of non-confrontation, consensual, cooperation and constructive dialogue and approach to the international human rights agenda, aimed at strengthening the capacity of Member States to comply with their human rights obligations, enshrined in the founding United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 60/251, which created the HRC. Consequently South Africa finds it difficult to support the approach and practice of some States of publicly ‘naming and shaming’ countries through statements delivered at the Human Rights Council. The issue will be handled through constructive dialogue bilaterally and within the context of the work of the African Union.

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