That is, the whole thing with South Africa and the Africa Group. Am glad it is..., because...., well, I have had so many betrayals by the people of my continent that it is a double tragedy when the single ray of hope seems to be dimming.
It is important. Very. Nascent, baby steps to get the international community to champion gay rights, and of course the rest of Africa up in arms as if us gay Africans dont exist and arent pushed to the extremes because of that.
If SA betrays its LGBT citizens and in the process kicks all of us in the ass, we lose, and lose big. But they confirmed.
As per spokesperson
South Africa’s Department of International Relations has categorically denied that it supports efforts to suspend the recently appointed UN LGBTI watchdog.And the basis, as we had pointed out, was the constitutional provisions.
“We have a constitution that unfortunately some of them don’t have and we cannot on any multilateral forum go against what our constitution says. And we’ll stick to that because we believe in that.
“Our diplomats cannot vote in a way that is contrary to the letter and spirit of our constitution. If that means voting against the Africa group to which we belong, that is exactly what we will do,” Monyela said.
There was reason for the activists to be disappointed, worried, and jumpy about the issue. South Africa, who had made the original proposal, had actually ABSTAINED when it came to voting in July.
South Africa shocked LGBTI activists around the world last week when it refused to support a landmark resolution on LGBTI rights at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.Trying to justify that position, both at the UN and within the country was a convoluted, confusing effort by the Ambasaddor concerned. Indeed, Steve Letsieke
accurately pointed out to the Ambassador, that instead of manufacturing reasons for the surprising vote to sell out South African LGBT people, for reasons of 'arrogance' of other nations, etc, the ambassador had to remember that they served South Africans, as stated in the South African Constitution. And nothing, nothing should have have trumped that.
As reported about the contentious interview on air, the Ambassador sought diversion by claiming that not all South African LGBT activists were united.
Letsike, in turn, pointed out that even if there were disagreements, “You had a mandate; the mandate is the Constitution which prohibits discrimination”.She continued: “Unfortunately you are not consistent ambassador; unfortunately at the costs of lives… The mandate of the ambassador is to represent the Constitution, even if you have to be bold…”
The discussion concluded with the ambassador shouting over Letsike’s comments.
A continuing lesson in our rights as Gay Human Beings. They will always seem to be politically easier to kick aside, to push to aside. And, there is the continuing need to make sure that the advances that are gained are not reversed. Else we can all become very complacent.
South Africa is lucky to have a good crop of fearless activists that have been grounded in the country's struggle, and the lessons of democracy and representation.
The politicians were playing a 'double game', with the rights of Gay South Africans seen as the disposable football on the field. As Graeme Reid of Human Rights Watch observed
Experts, have however, claimed that Monyela is being disingenuous and that it was not required of South Africa or any African country to actually “sign” the statement to show support for it.
“South Africa did support the tabling of the Africa Group resolution and accompanying statement – it was a consensus position presented on behalf of the Africa Group, which includes South Africa,” Graeme Reid, Director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, told Mambaonline.
“In terms of UN procedure a country who disagrees with such a consensus statement would need to opt out if it did not agree. SA has not done so,” he explained,
“DIRCO is correct in that there is no ‘letter’ but there is a clear and unambiguous statement issued on behalf of all African states. Is South Africa saying that it is not part of the Africa Group?” he asked.
“It is typical of the double game South Africa has been playing at the UN,” added Reid.
That was a good call, South African Activists. And, yes, you did bring the politicians to the table and reversed a potentially catastrophic situation.
That, indeed, was activism for the LGBT citizens of South Africa, and the whole of Africa.