Cape Town - A discussion on transgender and intersex policies for legal gender recognition and ending intersex genital mutilation took place on Thursday and will conclude today.
The purpose of the dialogue is to shift South Africa from a particular model of gender recognition in the country that is pathologising and oppressive to gender-diverse persons.
The current legal gender recognition for South Africans is limited to male and female.
On Thursday, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola, who delivered the keynote speech, recognised that “systemic inequalities and unfair discrimination remain deeply embedded in social structures, practices and attitudes, undermining the very aspirations of what our constitutional democracy sought to achieve”.
He said there need to be change within the ministry of justice in how it deals with the LGBTQIA+ community.
“Without a doubt, the starting point for all government departments, particularly those in the front line of providing services, to be gender sensitive and the sensitisation around the needs of LGBTQIA+ persons should be prioritised,” said Lamola.
EU ambassador to South Africa, Riina Kionka, said: “Legal recognition is a necessary first step for trans and intersex persons to meet their most basic needs. From the EU, we intend to stay the course on this one.
“We will do what we need to, to support South Africa’s movement in this direction, while at the same time working to make sure we get it right at home.”
As a partner organisation, Gender Dynamix executive director Linda Matthyse said political commitment from Home Affairs and the Ministry of Justice was imperative in making sure policy and law moved in the right direction.
“They are the custodians to some degree of a change process that needs to happen within the administration, and to get their political commitment as leaders within those regards is absolutely critical in guiding this to change as civil society,” she said.
Matthyse hopes the new law promotes a fast, accessible, easy-to-use, non-discriminatory procedure and regulatory framework that would assist the most marginalised of trans, gender diverse, and intersex persons to be able to change their gender particulars with the Department of Home Affairs.