Deputy Minister of Justice, John Jeffery
The South African government said this week that it remains committed to hosting the long-delayed regional summit on LGBTI equality.
On Monday, international and local dignitaries gathered at the offices of OUT LGBT Well-being for the announcement of the US-led Global Equality Fund’s new grant to the Love, Not Hate campaign.
The programme, first launched in November 2013, is a national collaboration between LGBTI groups to manage and monitor sexual orientation and gender identity hate crime cases, raise awareness of hate crimes and work with government to tackle the scourge.
The event was attended by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, John Jeffery, which, he said, reflected “the seriousness that our government is taking in terms of LGBTI equality.”
He stated that while South Africa could be proud of its legislative equality for LGBTI people, “it is easier to change a law than to change prejudice.”
Jeffery said the government is “working to convene” the regional LGBTI summit, along with the South African Human Right Commission.
The government has been criticised for thus far not following through on its March 2014 promise to host the regional summit, as part of a United Nations Human Rights Council process initiated by countries, including South Africa, in 2011.
“It is a priority for us and our commitment is unwavering,” Jeffery insisted.
Addressing the audience, Chile’s Ambassador to South Africa, Carlos Parker, said that his country was proud to support the Love, Not Hate campaign as a partner in the Global Equality Fund.
“The fight for LGBT equal rights is not a Western concept being imposed on Africa,” Parker told the audience. “It is a just and fair fight for a world without discrimination.”
International and local dignitaries attended Monday’s launch
The sentiment was echoed by Patrick Gaspard, the US Ambassador to South Africa, who said that the grant is intended to “validate your voices and concerns,” and that it embodies a “North-South global partnership.”
He also acknowledged that in certain aspects of LGBTI rights, such as marriage and constitutional equality, South Africa had led the way. Gaspard expressed his hope that the Love, Not Hate programme will help to “make sure that we are free and safe every day.”
Dawie Nel, Director of OUT, one of the groups collaborating in the campaign said it was important to sustain the vital programme.
“We very excited about the support from the Global Equality Fund,” he said. “It will allow civil society groups to address LGBTI hate crimes more effectively, and we aim to do so with close collaboration with the government so that there is justice for all hate crime victims.”