South Africa vows to protect gays

Cape Town, Feb 26: The South African government Tuesday vowed to curb violence against lesbians, gays, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) people in the country.

“To this end, our focus will also be on ensuring that acts of violence do not go unpunished and that perpetrators are apprehended, prosecuted, convicted and appropriately sentenced,” Xinhua quoted Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), as saying.

“South Africa views the respect for the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms as a critical pillar of our domestic and foreign policies; hence they are enshrined in our constitution,” Monyela said.

South Africa believes that no person should be subjected to discrimination or violence on any ground, including on the basis of sexual orientation, he said in a statement.

Monyela said that on the domestic front, “we also have challenges of our own in this regard”.

“Our constitution makes it impermissible to discriminate on the ground of sexual orientation, therefore eradicating hate crimes and intolerance in regard to this matter remains a key preoccupation of the government, working collectively and with the relevant civil society organisations,” Monyela added.

In May 1996, South Africa became the first country in the world to provide constitutional protection to LGBT people, via section 9(3) of its constitution, which disallows discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation and other grounds. It is also the only African country that recognises same-sex marriage.