The Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) Unit, in collaboration with Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination Office (GEADO) at the Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice, University of Free State recently hosted a one day training workshop on 18 March 2023 aimed at equipping members and allies of the LGBTI+ community in South Africa with the knowledge and capacity to access the Equality Court through lodging civil claims. The training is part of a larger project to host trainings on accessing Equality Courts throughout South Africa in order to empower LGBTI+ communities to claim their rights.

The training, which took place at University of Free State in Bloemfontein, was attended in-person and virtually by 28 participants of various LGBT organizations and student activists, organised and overseen by senior officer Geraldine Lengau. The training was facilitated by project officer Chanel van der Linde and project intern Tholoana Mosia, who guided participants through an understanding of both western and African LGBTI+ identities and challenges that are faced in diverse contexts. It primarily focused on providing a comprehensive understanding of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination (PEPUDA) Act 4 of 2000, which prohibits unfair discrimination, harassment, and hate speech. PEPUDA, created to give effect to section 9 of the South African Constitution, also guides the procedures for accessing the Equality Courts.

Participants were also educated on the legal and procedural requirements for filing a case with the court, practical guidance on completion of relevant forms, as well as guidance on how to design a claim. Some obstacles noted by complainants include incorrectly filled out forms due to limited court official capacity to assist, resulting in delayed proceedings. To address potential confusion and bridge limited knowledge on litigation,  participants were taken through possible scenarios and designed a case that could be presented in proceedings including learning about basic rules of evidence. The training also provided a platform for participants to share their experiences and challenges as members of the LGBTI+ community, and those who work to support LGBTI+ persons in the Free State province.

The Centre for Human Rights recognises that discrimination against LGBTI+ people continues to be a major challenge in South Africa, despite the existence of a comprehensive and progressive legal framework. The training is part of efforts to assist in the empowerment of  LGBTI+ individuals and organisations to seek redress for unfair discrimination, hate speech, and harassment and to broadly advance equality of LGBTI+ persons in South Africa.

The Centre for Human Rights is thankful to GEADO for their time and contribution to the success of the training. The Centre also gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union.

For more information on access to the Equality Courts in South Africa, please contact:

Prof Frans Viljoen
Professor of International Human Rights Law

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


Mx Chanel van der Linde
Project Officer: SOGIESC Unit

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 3151
Fax: + 27 (0) 86 580 5743



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