Melanie Nathan, January 10, 2012
President Jacob Zuma arrived in New York on Tuesday ahead of South Africa’s officially assuming the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for January.
“SA will utilize its presidency to continue exploring concrete measures for strengthening the relationship between the United Nations and regional organizations, in particular the African Union,” spokesman Clayson Monyela said in a statement.
Monyela said it was expected the South African delegation would convene a debate with the aim of adopting concrete measures to ensure greater coherence between the UN and the AU.
Zuma and Finland President Tarja Halonen, would co-chair the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s high-level panel on global sustainability at the UN headquarters in New York.
“We will certainly take advantage of these important occasions to advance our international relations policy objectives… with a view to promoting democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights,” Zuma was quoted saying in the statement. – (Sapa reported )
Many African Union countries institutionalize anti-homosexuality laws and are in flagrant disregard of the basic human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex citizen, enforcing harsh prison sentences against homosexuals.
President Zuma should heed his leadership under the mandate of the South African people who hold their all inclusive post-apartheid constitution close to heart. The South African constitution prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and provides the way for full LGBTI equality.
South African and International LGBTI activists and organizations should be urging President Zuma to ensure the values he intends to promote with the AU includes the issue of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Africa, as a matter of human rights imperative.
While this may be seen as a sensitive issue for many AU countries which use sovereignty and tribal culture as their anti-homosexuality excuse, perhaps Mr. Zuma is the perfect leader to convey the contrary message.
South Africa comprises of hundreds of different African tribes, all coming together as one South Africa, willing to abide international standards for full acceptance in the global socio-economic environment.
Perhaps Mr. Zuma can educate his fellow African Union members with the scientific data which will show that no amount of anti-gay rhetoric can negate the simple fact that whether African or Western, humankind is subject to a spectrum of sexual orientations and that to criminalize or deny a person their natural born orientation is contrary to basic human rights.
The following are countries which are members of the AU, and those with * criminalize homosexuality – the list is not may not be exhaustive. Also some countries apply Sharia law.
| Algeria* 2 years
Angola * not enforced
Botswana * not enforced
Cameroon* 5 years
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
| Ethiopia unsure
Guinea* 3 years
Kenya* 14 years
Libya* 5 years
Mauritania* death penalty
Mauritius trying to repeal
Namibia* not enforced
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
São Tomé and Príncipe
Seychelles changing law
South Sudan* 10 years
Swaziland* harsh punishment
Tanzania* Up to life in prison
Tunisia* 3 years
Uganda* seeking death penalty
Zambia* 14 years
Note the following countries have signed the United Nations Declaration which speaks to these Human Rights:
South Africa – provides full LGBTI equality and anti-discrimination laws
Mauritius -Still need to decriminalize
Seychelles – Still needs to decriminalize
CALL TO ACTION: Contact President Zuma and ask him to ensure that LGBTI human rights are included in his Agenda.