Semenya Welcomes UN denouncing systemic discrimination in sport
JOHANNESBURG – Caster Semenya has welcomed the June 2020 report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights denouncing the systemic gender and race-based discrimination in international sport that she has suffered under for years.
The report calls on sports governing bodies to review and revoke eligibility rules that negatively impact athletes’ rights, such as the 2018 discriminatory sex-based eligibility regulations of the IAAF (World Athletics) that were challenged by Semenya but upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in May 2019. The CAS award upholding the regulations is currently under review by the Swiss Supreme Court.
“I thank the UN High Commissioner for highlighting the discrimination and harm faced by women and girls in sport,” Semenya stated. “For too long people controlling sport have looked the other way, ignored our rights. I want to assure them – we will not be silenced and we will not disappear.”
The UN report points out that the most well-known women affected by World Athletics’ current and former eligibility regulations are from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, whereas most research on the participation of women and girls in sport focuses on developed countries.
Semenya knows first-hand the harm caused by the enforcement by uncaring administrators of discriminatory sex-based eligibility regulations described in the UN report.
“Enough is enough. It is time for white men to stop telling women and girls how they should look and to stop messing with our bodies,” Semenya stated.
The UN report raises concerns with the ability and willingness of sports governing bodies and the CAS to provide effective remedies for athletes whose human rights are violated. Semenya is hopeful that the Swiss Supreme Court will not, as the CAS did, shrink from upholding human rights, including the infringement of equality rights, bodily integrity and human dignity, in deciding her challenge against the CAS award and the fate of World Athletics’ discriminatory eligibility regulations.
“There was never a better time than now to take a stand against systemic discrimination,” she said.
Norton Rose Fulbright