Kenneth Mubu, the Democratic Alliance’s Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, has slammed the South African government for refusing to support efforts at the UN to protect LGBT people against discrimination.

According to Mubu, an official’s objection to including discrimination against LGBT people in a report on racism and intolerance by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a “slap in the face for the world’s gay people” and “represents a severe blight on our international standing”.

On Tuesday, the South African representative to the UNHRC, Jerry Matjila, told the council that placing homophobia on a similar level to racism “demeans the legitimate plight of the victims of racism”.

“It is remarkable and disappointing that Mr. Matjila has not only neglected to protect the basic principles of human rights but has categorically failed both the rights of gay people in South Africa and elsewhere, and has attempted to belittle forms of discrimination,” commented Mubu.

“In the wake of the recent events in Malawi and Uganda, South Africa’s rejection of the inclusion of sexual orientation as a means of discrimination seems like an act of appeasement to certain African countries with poor human rights records, rather than taking the principled position, and setting an example on human rights which other African states could look to,” he added.

Mubu said that he would be writing to the Minister of International Relations & Cooperation to request that corrective action be taken on the matter, and that he will be submitting parliamentary questions to her department, requesting an explanation for Matjila’s “unacceptable actions”.

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