DA wants Parliament to debate govt’s anti-LGBT stance at the UN

UN General Assembly (Pic UN News)

UN General Assembly (Pic UN News)

Update 11/11/2016: South Africa’s Department of International Relations has categorically denied that it supports efforts to suspend the recently appointed UN LGBT watchdog. Details here

The DA has called on Parliament to debate South Africa’s increasingly disturbing approach to LGBTI rights at the United Nations.

The move was in response to reports that South Africa plans to vote to suspend an expert recently appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to create awareness of and improve the rights of LGBTI people across the world.

“The intention to vote to remove this watchdog sends a clear signal that South Africa does not support the promotion of and protection of LGBTI rights,” said Stevens Mokgalapa, the party’s Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.

“This is another giant leap away from our foreign policy which is meant to uphold and advance human rights, as envisaged by Nelson Mandela,” he said.

Earlier this year, South Africa abstained from voting on the creation of the Independent Expert on Protection against Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

Last week, Botswana and the Africa Group at the UN announced their intention to reverse the establishment of this watchdog in a draft resolution submitted to the UN General Assembly, which South Africa signed.

The DA said that, “This is yet another example of how the ANC-led government is falling miserably short of its Constitutional obligations to defend human rights.”

It cited other examples such as the government’s intention to withdraw from the International Criminal Court; its vote against a UN resolution earlier this year on the “promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the internet”; and allowing wanted war criminal, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, to leave South Africa without arresting him.

South Africa’s support for the Africa Group’s attempt to block the LGBTI International Expert was condemned by LGBTI groups on Tuesday as a “betrayal”.

Commentators have also pointed out that should the vote be successful not only will it have a damaging impact on global LGBTI rights but it will also undermine the independence and role of the UN Human Rights Council.

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