For Immediate Release: 16 February 2017
Allegations of discrimination against transgender woman at Ikhaya Le Themba shelter
The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has learnt with great dismay of the allegations made about legal advice which purports discrimination and/or exclusion of a transgender dweller of Ikhaya Le Themba shelter.
This allegation, which has now been made public arose from a social media message which was inscribed in the following manner: “The Commission for Gender Equality’s legal office says that Trans women are not women and should be housed at a women’s shelter” … “Iranti is appalled that the Commission for Gender Equality’s legal officer advised a women’s shelter in JHB to evict a Trans women” (sic).
This message was tweeted by Iranti-org which according to their website “is a queer human rights visual media organization based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Iranti-org works within a human rights framework as its foundational platform for raising issues on Gender, Identities and Sexuality”. The allegations have been circulated on social media whilst the CGE is in possession of a complaint from Iranti-org’s lawyers who have lodged such a complaint on 15 February 2017 (yesterday). In light of the timing of the receipt of complaint, it would be fair that the CGE is given adequate time to ascertain the facts and decide on remedies based on the outcome of the investigation. It should be noted that upon receiving the complaint yesterday, the CGE tried in vain to contact the person to whom the legal advice was supposedly given to (by CGE) in relation to the complaint. In essence, the allegations are under investigation and it is important to stress that the matters raised by Iranti-org through social media remain “allegations” until proven otherwise.
The CGE is mandated by law to uphold the Constitution and as such, the institution is bound by the same Constitution to protect the rights of individuals including the rights of Transgender individuals. It is for this reason that the CGE has in the past and current times forged relations through Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with LGBTIQA communities in order to partly fulfil the its Constitutional mandate in as a far as the protection of LGBTIQA communities are concerned.
It is therefore astonishing that the CGE has received a complaint yesterday (15 February 2017) and whilst an investigation is underway, with the intention of dealing with the matter through official processes, the same complainant (Iranti-org) chooses to engage the CGE through social media on the very same complaint lodged in less than 24 hours. At the heart of this matter is to ensure that the investigation process should occur with integrity and respect to the parties involved, especially when the matter is of a sensitive nature.
The CGE is committed to protecting the rights of LGBTIQA communities as the law requires, and as such, the matter regarding IKhaya Le Themba shelter is no different in that it will receive same amount of attention as other cases.
Issued by: Commission for Gender Equality (CGE)
Date: 16 February 2017
Contact Person: Javu Baloyi
Tel: 083 579 3306
The Commission for Gender Equality is established in terms of Section 187 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in order to promote respect for gender equality and the protection, development and attainment of gender equality.