Minister of International Relations
and Cooperation, Nkoana Mashabane

LGBT rights groups picketed outside the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in Pretoria on Tuesday, demanding that South Africa uphold its constitution internationally.

Around 150 people took part in the rally, which was organised by the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, the Treatment Action Campaign and Section27.

The protest follows actions by the DIRCO at the UN and in various countries which appear to support an anti-gay agenda that is directly in conflict with the country’s constitution.

In a number of votes at the UN, South Africa has declined to support measures to combat homophobia, apparently in an effort to show solidarity with African countries. The country further posted openly-homophobic journalist John Qwelane as high commissioner to Uganda, a nation embroiled in anti-gay fervour.

South Africa has also failed to use its powerful position to lobby for LGBT equality via the African Union and SADC which represent, arguably, the most homophobic continent in the world.

“South Africa’s ignorance of its obligation to uphold its constitution makes it, at the very least, complicit in the recent murder of one of the most vocal voices against homophobia on the continent, Ugandan David Kato as well as many other LGBTI people across the continent,” said the event’s organisers.

A memorandum calling for South Africa to act in accordance with the principles of its constitution in its international affairs was handed to representatives of the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Nkoana Mashabane.

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