The United Nations Independent Expert  on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (UNIE-SOGI), Dr Graeme Reid, in collaboration with the Centre for Human Rights (Centre), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, held a workshop on 2 May 2024 focused on the South African perspective of sexual orientation, gender identity and human rights at the Department of International Relations and Corporation (DIRCO). The Director-General of DIRCO, Zane Dangor, opened the hybrid workshop, which was held as part of the DIRCO Academy’s ongoing initiatives aimed at contributing to the development of the knowledge and skills of DIRCO officials in a wide range of relevant human rights and international relations issues. The workshop was aimed at strengthening the knowledge of participants on pertinent geopolitical developments that affect South Africa’s foreign policy initiatives with respective sexual and gender minority rights and to empower participants with knowledge about sexual orientation, gender identity (SOGI) and human rights from a South African perspective.

The participants were taken through the history of LGBTQI+ activism in South Africa, highlights the role the civil society and activists like Simon Nkoli played leading up to the constitutional protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As officials who work in the international and regional diplomatic space, the participants were also taken through human rights and political perspectives of sexual orientation and gender identity. To highlight these perspectives, the facilitators discussed the provisions of United Nations and African Union human rights instruments in terms of how they have been interpreted in an inclusive manner to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Another important aspect raised in this regard was the adoption of Resolutions on sexual orientation and gender identity by the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council.  The discussion further dwelt on the role of the Equality Courts in South Africa as a way of ensuring access to justice by sexual and gender minorities. As a way of mitigating the impact of anti-sodomy laws and discrimination in general, the participants were taken through the concept and process of decriminalisation with particular emphasis on how it was achieved in South Africa, its symbolic and actual impact on the lived experiences of sexual and gender minorities as well as the need to for advocacy towards social change after decriminalisation. The discussion concluded with the need to counter the growing anti-rights movement across the continent and the role that state institutions can play in this regard. The workshop ended with Dr Reid elaborating on the vision of his mandate as UNIE-SOGI.

Dr Reid has been serving as UNIE-SOGI from1 November 2023 for a renewable term of three years. He also holds an appointment as ‘extraordinary lecturer’ in the Centre for Human Rights. The Centre, which supports the mandate of the UNIE-SOGI, thanks Dr Reid for the opportunity to contribute to the activities undertaken under his mandate.

For further information please contact:

Prof Frans Viljoen
Director: Centre for Human Rights

Professor of International Human Rights Law

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 3228
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743

Landilani Banda
Acting Manager: SOGIESC Unit

Acting Manager: SOGIESC Unit

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 4397
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743


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