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Deputy President Paul Mashatile says government will continue to engage nationally and internationally about the moral and political need to respect the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community.

South Africa, he said, outlaws all unfair discrimination based on sex, gender or sexual orientation, whether committed by the government or by a private party.

“For this reason, the government strongly believes that the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual (LGBTQIA+) are human rights.”

The Deputy President was on Thursday responding to oral questions in Parliament about progress on the land reform programme, coalition governments, and his role as the President’s envoy on South Sudan. 

Citing the Human Dignity Trust, a strategic litigation non-governmental organisation (NGO), which defends and advances the rights of LGBTQIA+ people, he said 67 countries around the world criminalise same-sex sexual activity.

Of these, he said 41 nations criminalise private, consensual sexual activity between women, 11 impose the death penalty, while 14 criminalise transgender people.

“This gives you an idea of the enormity of the challenge at hand. The matter concerns many countries throughout the world with whom you must engage persuasively to recognise the rights of LGBTQIA+ people.

“We must endeavour to persuade because the fact that the 67 countries in question criminalise LGBTQIA+ people is indicative of the truism that our outlook and our laws are not universal.

“We cannot, therefore, impose our will on other countries. We have to engage.”

He said these 67 countries represent 34.3% of nations of the world, which is no small number by any stretch of the imagination.

“The government will continue to engage nationally and internationally about the moral and political need to respect the rights of LGBTQIA+ people in bilateral and other fora.”

South Sudan

Meanwhile, he said South Africa will continue to support peace missions in South Sudan.

He explained that the mandate of the Special Envoy to South Sudan differs from that of South Africa’s Ambassador.

“The latter deals with normal bilateral relations between the two countries. The Special Envoy on the other hand is tasked with assisting in the search for durable peace in South Sudan.”

The immediate task of the Special Envoy, he said, is to help the parties to the Transitional Government of National Unity in South Sudan with the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

The power-sharing agreement was signed between the warring parties in August 2018 in a bid to end the five-year civil war.

“The work of the Special Envoy contributes to the effort to silence the guns.”

According to the Deputy President, it also seeks to complement Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) in the search for peace in South Sudan, the region and the wider African continent.

In the coming weeks and months, he announced that he will engage with various parties to the conflict. These include South Sudan’s neighbours, members of the AU High-Level Ad Hoc Committee for South Sudan, also known as the C5, which South Africa chairs and other relevant players.

“The attainment of peace in South Sudan will help to stabilise an already strained Horn of Africa region, with its various levels of social and political conflicts within and between countries.

“Peace must also lead to the development effort, which should, in turn, contribute to the material upliftment of the people. It should also help to address a plethora of social and political problems, including stemming the phenomenon of migration.”

Deputy President Mashatile described South Sudan as one of the world’s most fertile pieces of real estate with abundant water, which goes to waste yearly.

“Apart from oil, the country’s precious rare earths and other minerals have similarly hardly been exploited. South Sudan has all it takes to become one of the economic hubs in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. But only if we can bring peace.” – SAnews.gov.za

 

Source of original article: SAnews – South African News (www.sanews.gov.za).
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