Below is the request:
REQUEST FOR A GOVERNMENT COMMUNIQUÉ
The Status of the DoJ & CD-led National Task Team to Address Violence Against LGBTI Persons
May 13 2013
In May 2011 the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development established a National Task Team to address gender- and sexual orientation-based violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons in South Africa, in response to local and international petitions and demands made to the Ministry of Justice to “recognise corrective rape against lesbians as a hate crime”. The Task Team, constituted of representatives from government departments, independent bodies and members nominated by civil society, has the purpose of developing, implementing and monitoring a joint intervention strategy to address gender- and sexual orientation-based violence against LGBTI persons, especially in the courts and the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster. The Task Team has had many challenges and given these, the political legitimacy of the Task Team continues to be questioned by civil society and LGBTI communities. In order for the Task Team to move forward, a meaningful overview of past activities and a clear plan of action for the work that lies ahead are needed. As civil society organisations, we are deeply concerned about the lack of government communication regarding the status of the Task Team and the implications this has for implementing an effective response to address gender- and sexual orientation-based violence against LGBTI persons.
We, as representatives from civil society organisations, call on the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to provide a communiqué regarding the progress of the Task Team in achieving its objectives and a clear plan of action for the work that lies ahead. Specifically, we call for:
1. An overview of the activities and campaigns the Task Team has engaged in since May 2011
1.1. When the Task Team was first established, civil society organisations submitted information on several cases of violence against LGBTI people that were in the justice system at that point for follow up. In an email sent on 08-08-2012, it was requested that Task Team members ‘… submit cases for LGBTI that are NOT finalised’. We have not received information on what actions were undertaken by the DoJ & CD in relation to these cases.
1.2. The Government Communication and Information System was tasked with a bus and taxi campaign, including marketing the campaign at information desks, malls, and on billboards. Have any activities taken place related to this since June 2012?
1.3. Research on court systems that Create Africa was commissioned to execute has been finalised. Nonetheless, the full report has yet to be shared with the Task Team members.
2. An overview of the 2013 operational plan of the DoJ & CD as it relates to the Task Team, the anticipated role of civil society organisations in meeting the objectives of the plan, and the human and financial resources required to implement the operational plan
2.1. The DoJ & CD previously made a commitment to appointing two personnel to the Task Team in order to strengthen the capacity of Task Team – a project manager and a project officer. Were these personnel appointed? If they were, how have they contributed in furthering the objectives of the Task Team?
2.2. Discussion on the working streams as activities for the five-year implementation plan were inclusive of funding for this work. However, it remains unclear how far the process of securing funds for this project within the DoJ & CD has progressed and whether this has been finalised.
2.3. Civil society organisations previously proposed that a communication channel be created between the Task Team and the Constitutional Review cluster within the DoJ tasked with preparing the Hate Crimes Bill. We continue to believe that there is value in doing so. One of the principal goals of the Task Team is to support and to help shape the government’s approach to combating hate crimes against LGBTI people (including policy and legislation). It seems a missed opportunity not to facilitate communication between the two structures.
3. A reflection on the political will supporting the advancement of the objectives established for the Task Team.
As civil society organisations we recognise the value of effective collaborative work with government departments to address gender- and sexual orientation-based violence against LGBTI persons. Such violence represents the most blatant way to communicate to LGBTI persons that they are less than human and that their lives are expendable. The community and societal effects of gender- and sexual orientation-based violence are further reinforced when such violence is perpetrated with impunity. There is an urgent need to address the failings in the criminal justice system to respond to gender- and sexual orientation-based violence against LGBTI persons. An effective response requires commitment and decisive action and we call on the Department to provide a clear plan of action to this end.
Advocacy and Lobbying Coordinator
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender
Human Rights Watch
Research and Development Coordinator
Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA)
Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA)
Out LGBT Wellbeing
Department of Psychology, Unisa