An African openly-gay member of parliament has spoken in support of South Africa’s new landmark resolution on violence on the basis of sexual orientation at the UN.
Last week, South Africa tabled a resolution for consideration at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, titled ‘Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity’.
The resolution expresses “grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity”.
The resolution further requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a study on violence and discrimination on these grounds, and calls for a panel discussion to be held at the Human Rights Council to discuss the findings of the study in a constructive and transparent manner, and to consider appropriate follow-up.
The resolution is a welcome show of international leadership by South Africa on the issue of LGBT rights.
The country has been lambasted in the past for not supporting LGBT equality on the international front and siding with other (largely homophobic) African countries, known as the ‘African block’, contrary to its own constitution.
South African MP Ian Ollis
South African Member of Parliament Ian Ollis, who was in Europe on other business, was asked by South Africa’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva to address UN members attending an informal meeting to discuss the resolution.
Ollis, who is also the DA Shadow Minister of Labour, is one of only a handful of politicians in Africa to be openly-gay – most of whom are in South Africa.
He told Mambaonline that he introduced himself to the meeting as “Africa’s most openly gay politician” and told the delegates that he was deeply concerned about violence associated with homophobia. He also spoke out about ‘corrective rape’ in South Africa.
“I reminded them that the murders and rapes mandated an urgent response at the Human Rights Council and that they, as representatives of the world, should set the standard and call the international community’s attention to this burning issue,” said Ollis.
He urged delegates to support the resolution, saying that “the matter is one of urgency as it deals with violence, rape and murder. It can’t be left for another day”.
Ollis praised South Africa’s representatives for their support of LGBT equality and for tabling the initiative at the Council but expressed concern about the likely lack of support by most African and Middle East countries.
“Only Ghana, Botswana and Egypt attended the informal meeting. The rest of Africa was not interested. They didn’t even bother to attend – showing that they have no support for the resolution,” said Ollis.
He also revealed that the Egyptian representative at the meeting expressed his anger that South Africa had not canvassed the African block before introducing the resolution. The representative later walked out of the meeting after describing homosexuality as “an aberration”.
The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva
According to Ollis, South Africa asserted its right to introduce resolutions without consulting the block and said that it would continue to drive the resolution forward.
Mambaonline has been told that the resolution is being negotiated with other countries and may be amended this week before it is put on the table for a vote, probably this Friday.
LGBT activists have called on people across the world to urge their governments to support the resolution.
“The resolution requires a majority of votes to be approved. I am hoping that it will pass and that the African and Middle Eastern voting members will not block the resolution,” said Ollis.
According to a report presented at the current session of the Human Rights Council, during the past 18 months, 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have been murdered in one country alone.
It also documented death threats against activists, incidents of ‘corrective rape’, arbitrary detention and the imposition of the death penalty – all related to sexual orientation or gender identity.