The country has sanctioned a move by African countries to sabotage a resolution by the UN to deploy a human rights watchdog with a specific focus on gender discrimination in member countries.
South Africa signed a statement calling for the suspension of the UN’s first independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, Thai international law professor Vitit Muntarbhorn.
The African Group’s resolution reads: “We are even more disturbed at the attempt to focus on certain persons on the grounds of their sexual interests and behaviours, while ignoring that intolerance and discrimination regrettably exist in various parts of the world, be it on the basis of colour, race, sex or religion, to mention only a few. These attempts … seriously jeopardise the entire international human rights framework as they create divisions.”
The group said it was concerned that “non-internationally agreed notions” such as sexual orientation and gender identity were given attention “at the expense of issues of paramount importance, such as the right to development and the racism agenda”, another assertion South Africa, by implication, co-signed.
Elsewhere, they said “notions” of sexual orientation and gender identity were not and should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments.
Despite initial attempts earlier this year by African countries (where South Africa abstained from the vote) to oppose the independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, Muntarbhorn was appointed to the position in September.