Caster Semenya takes case to European Court of Human Rights

Caster Semenya (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

South Africa Olympian Caster Semenya is set to take her fight for justice to the European Court of Human Rights, her lawyer has announced.

The athlete has been attempting to overturn regulations issued by the International Association of Athletics Federations IAAF, now called World Athletics, which would force her to undergo medical intervention to reduce her natural testosterone levels if she wishes to compete in certain categories.

In September, Semenya suffered a defeat at the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland which refused her appeal to set aside a 2019 ruling against her by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which previously upheld the policy.

She remains undeterred, however, and will continue her legal battle. “We will be taking World Athletics to the European Court of Human Rights, and public support goes a long way to help show how the rules from World Athletics are against public interest,” said Greg Nott from Norton Rose Fulbright in a statement on Tuesday.

He cited the backing of Semenya’s cause by the Parliament of South Africa, the UN Human Rights Council, the South African Human Rights Commission and the South African Commission for Gender Equality.

“The increasing number of institutions that have shown their support for Ms Semenya reinforces that it is not acceptable to require a black, or any other woman, to either have invasive surgery or unethical hormonal treatment to curtail natural biological functions, to compete,” said Nott.

“We encourage everyone to help create a more equal world by showing their support on social media and by putting pressure on their sporting bodies to embrace and apply internationally accepted human rights values in their activities and rules.”

The 2018 World Athletics regulations block Semenya from defending her 800m gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics next year or to complete in any 400m to 1500m events unless she undergoes treatment to reduce her natural levels of testosterone.

Semenya has refused and her legal team argues that the rules violate the LGBTIQ champion’s rights to physical integrity, economic freedom and human dignity.

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