CALS Quarterly Issue 21
- Lee-Anne Bruce
Read the latest issue of our quarterly newsletter and catch up on our recent highlights
This Pride Month began with the disturbing news that Uganda’s “Anti-Homosexuality” Act has been signed into law – with even more severe punishments awaiting the LGBTIAQ+ community and their allies than the original bill. The Act criminalises same-sex relations with life imprisonment and even death. Not only does this go against Uganda’s international law commitments under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, it runs counter to the country’s own constitution. Many predict this will reverse hard-won progress on HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health.
CALS stands with LGBTIAQ+ people in Uganda and across the continent. We support those who are currently challenging the Act in court and call on the South African government to condemn the actions of Uganda and assist those seeking asylum because of this law. Our own Constitution explicity acknowledges sexual orientation as a protected category. In South Africa, we have welcomed some encouraging changes, such as recent guidelines intended to promote inclusion of people with diverse SOGIESC in schools.
We have been concerned, however, about a pattern of government representatives at the local and national level attempting to roll back progress in other areas, most notably the right to access adequate housing. We have noted disconcerting reports in Johannesburg of homes being demolished without court orders. Recently, we also commented on a private members bill proposing regressive amendments to the Prevention of Illegal Evictions (PIE) Act. CALS continues to support people facing eviction and to extend the right to housing to include adequate sanitation.
The last month also included two of our flagship special projects aimed at growing and strengthening the social justice sector. The third annual Public Interest Law Moot Court Competition had over 600 students participating, and culminated in a grand finale at the Constitutional Court. We then co-hosted the first Activist Symposium, bringing together human rights defenders from across the region to create connection, foster solidarity and discuss solutions to activist repression. Our teams continue to facilitate workshops on topics ranging from social and labour plans to gender-based violence in communities around the country.
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