Human Rights Commission trumpets awareness around sexual orientation

May 17, today, is a day to commemorate the decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1990.

The South African Human Rights Commission said on Thursday that the aim of The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia was to coordinate and raise awareness of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) rights violations.

The SAHRC said the day was observed on May 17, and was chosen to commemorate the decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1990.

“The South African Human Rights Commission observes the day and has taken massive strides in its work related to SOGIE rights, as established through its constitutional mandate as set out in section 184 of the Constitution, to promote, protect and monitor the observance of the rights as set out in the Bill of Rights, Chapter 2 of the Constitution,” the SAHRC said in a statement.

The Commission said they would be participating and partnering along with the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) and the department of justice and constitutional development (DoJ&CD) in a workshop that would focus on the way in which government, civil society and LGBTIQ persons work together to realise and strengthen rights, on the May 17, 2018, at its head office in Braamfontein.

“The workshop will include discussions on the National Task Team, the National Intervention Strategy, the Ekurhuleni Declaration on Practical Solutions on Ending Violence and Discrimination Against Persons Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression, as well as intersex rights.

“The Commission has previously participated in the African Regional Seminar on Finding Practical Solutions to Ending Violence and Discrimination based SOGIE, which took place from the 3rd to the 5th of March 2016, and was attended by over 200 participants from all over Africa. The Regional Seminar was also a collaborative effort of the SAHRC, DoJ&CD, and the FHR.”

Participants of the African Regional Seminar included partners from government being DoJ&CD, the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco) and the department of social development (DSD) as well as national human rights institutions (NHRIs) from across Africa, including from Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.

“The high level of hostility experienced by persons on the basis of their SOGIE within Africa, was brought into focus, with debates and discussions around the many laws enacted, adopted or inherited which criminalise same-sex unions, with an understanding that solutions need to be sought for human rights violations of LGBTIQ persons to human dignity, freedom of expression and association as well as their right to love and their right to life.”

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