Twenty one South African LGBT organisations have come together to condemn the government’s vote to remove sexual orientation from an anti-execution resolution at the UN, saying that the move undermines the country’s constitution.

The amendment called for the words “sexual orientation” to be replaced by “discriminatory reasons on any basis” and is voted on by the UN General Assembly every two years. For the last ten years sexual orientation was explicitly referred to in the resolution that condemns extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions and other killings.

“The continued treatment of LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) people as second class citizens in our countries and on the world stage by our government representatives is shameful and a disgrace. The vote basically means my life is worthless. We will not rest until the full liberation of LGBTI people in South Africa and the world is achieved. We will not rest until there is a South African government in place that recognises the multiple identities and realities of all its citizens. Full citizenship for all,” said Phumi Mtetwa of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project.

Gay Umbrella also expressed its concern that the South African Government “…does not practice what it preaches” when it comes to LGBT rights. “The recent vote at the UN is a warning sign that LGBT rights in South Africa are not guaranteed and we will do everything in our power to mobilise our members to stand strong to protect their rights,” it said.

“South Africa voted to remove sexual orientation from this resolution, effectively disempowering activists to lobby against laws dealing with hate crimes against gender variant people. This hateful act is a stab in the back by those we trust to lead us,” said Robert Hamblin, Advocacy Manager and Deputy Director of Gender DynamiX.

The organisations said in a joint statement that “South Africa’s leaders should be acting in a manner that is consistent with South Africa’s constitutional values of non-discrimination, which expressly recognise and names sexual orientation as a ground for specific protection”.

They further demanded to know why “our leaders and the African National Congress [is failing] to honour their mandate”.

The organisations that signed on to the statement include: ACTIVATE Wits; Behind the Mask; Durban Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre; Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW); Gay & Lesbian Network; Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA); Gender DynamiX; Glorious Light Metropolitan Community Church; Good Hope Metropolitan Community Church; Hope and Unity Metropolitan Community Church; Intersex South Africa; Jewish OutLook; Out in Africa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival; OUT LGBT Well-being; Rainbow UCT; South African Youth Liberating Organisation (SAYLO); The Inner Circle; The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP); Triangle Project; UNISA Centre for Applied Psychology; and XX/Y Flame.

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