The DA’s Tony Leon has asked the South African government why it failed to support a recent UN declaration calling for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

The former leader of the party, and now its foreign affairs spokesman, submitted the questions on the embarrassing matter to foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Friday.

In addition to asking for a reason as to why the government chose to not sign the document, supported by 66 other nations from around the globe, Leon also asked the minister if her office considered the ramifications of doing so.

“Our failure to translate our domestic Constitution and legislation into international support for human rights is clearly motivated by a desire not to offend some of the most retrogressive and authoritarian countries in the world,” said Leon.

It has been suggested that South Africa chose to not sign the statement in order to avoid offending African countries that are part of the Organisation of Islamic Conference; an organisation that actively opposed the declaration at the UN.

“This contradiction between what we practise at home and preach abroad is entirely and unhappily consistent with our role call of dismal votes on the United Nations Security Council during our ill-starred tenure there which ended in December 2008,” added Leon.

According to the Mail & Guardian newspaper, a statement last week from Dumisani Khumalo, South Africa’s ambassador to the UN, said only: “South Africa supported the statement but was not a signatory to it.”

The December 18 declaration was the first time that a statement condemning rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people was presented in the UN General Assembly.

Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritius and Sao Tome and Principe were the only six African countries to sign on to the document.

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