UN Assembly President Ali Abdussalam Treki

The Joint Working Group (JWG) – a network of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) groups throughout South Africa – has demanded that the South African government speak out against recent homophobic comments made by the new President of the United Nations General Assembly.

Responding to questions around last year’s vote on the decriminalisation of homosexuality at the UN, Lybia’s Ali Abdussalam Treki stated that homosexuality “is not really acceptable”.

He went on to say; “It is not acceptable in the majority of the world. And there are some countries that allow that, thinking it is a kind of democracy… I think it is not.”

The JWG commented that “These statements are deeply disturbing given the high levels or intolerance, abuse and violence LGBTI people throughout the world face on a daily basis, not least on Treki’s own continent of Africa. They also stand in direct opposition to the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.

The organisation said that the South African government and its representatives at the United Nations have an obligation to condemn in the strongest terms Treki’s comments and to make clear South Africa’s commitment to the rights of LGBTI people across the world.

“It is entirely unacceptable that in a country where the Constitution specifically prohibits discrimination against LGBTI people that our government turns a blind eye to such discrimination when it occurs in international forums such as the United Nations,” it said.

The JWG added that it would communicate its demand to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation that it officially condemn Treki’s comments.

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