Provisions to protect rights of women and LGBTQI people cut – COSATU

Federation condemns ANC MPs' removal of Gender and Human Rights' Protection Clauses from the Traditional Courts Bill

COSATU strongly condemns ANC MPs' removal of Gender and Human Rights' Protection Clauses from the Traditional Courts Bill 

23 August 2018

COSATU condemns in the strongest possible terms the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services’ unbelievable gutting of provisions to protect the rights of women and LGBTQI persons from the Traditional Courts Bill.

It is simply shocking and bewildering that the ANC MPs in the PC have decided to side with traditional leaders and remove all the clauses seeking to protect women and LGBTQI persons from the bill.  These concessions were made by the Ministry of Justice after extensive engagements with civil society ,and after the previous version of the bill was overwhelmingly rejected by the NCOP for this very reason.  It’s tantamount to negotiating in bad faith by the ANC justice committee study group.

These concessions whilst not perfect were progressive and critical to protecting women and the LGBTQI community.  They allowed for:

·         Persons to opt out of traditional courts. 

·         They also protected men who did not want a traditional court imposed upon them. 

·         They required traditional courts to be gender representative. 

They required traditional courts not to discriminate on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. 

It provided for the Department of Justice to play an oversight role. 

These key human rights provisions have now been removed by the ANC MPs at the behest of traditional leaders.

COSATU calls upon Parliament to halt this bill and we also call upon the ANC to reject the deletions of these human rights and gender equality clauses.  These clauses must be reinserted without fail or compromise.  The bill is now fatally flawed and simply unconstitutional and must be stopped.  COSATU will be engaging the President, the ANC and Ministers for Justice and Women, the Speaker and Chief Whip to now intervene as a matter of the highest urgency. 

We will not accept the adoption of such an anti-gender and human rights bill and we will ensure that Parliament rejects it.  It is a shocking indictment upon the ANC justice committee study group to have done so at the behest of a few traditional leaders and to have ignored the calls of civil society.  The ANC will be delusional to believe that the votes of a couple hundred traditional leaders are more important the votes of millions of women living in traditional areas.

Issued by Matthew Parks, Parliamentary Coordinator, COSATU, 23 August 2018