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Know Your Rights

With regards to Human Rights, we’ve come a long way as a country. South Africa has one of the most beloved and celebrated Constitutions in the world, with a Bill of Rights that represents all her people and protects them.

One would think though, that with our Constitution and Bill of Rights in place, that life in South Africa is a picnic, and you would be wrong. For many gay people, the struggle is real, and their human rights are still infringed upon in 2021, not only by strangers but by friends and family alike.

To celebrate Human Rights Day, we’re here to remind you of your rights in SA, no matter what your gender or sexuality is.

  • You have the right to have access to health care services. This includes HIV testing and treatment, screening for PrEP, testing and treatment for STDs.
  • You have a right to participate in any decision affecting your personal health and treatment.
  • You have a right to confidentiality. All information concerning you, including information relating to your health, status, treatment, or stay in a health facility is confidential.
  • You have a right to work anywhere. The 1998 Employment Equity Act 55 1998 ensured that employers could not discriminate against employees based on sexual orientation.
  • You have a right to marry whoever you want. In the pre-democratic era, same-sex relationships and marriages were not only denied but were also regarded as immoral. On December 1, 2006, the South African government passed the Union Bill, which legalized same-sex marriage, making South Africa the first African country to do so.
  • You have a right to have children. The Union Bill that was passed on the 1st of December 2006, also allowed for gay men to have an option to adopt children.

So, what practical steps can we, as everyday South Africans take to ensure that we are assisting the improvement of the lives of our fellow men and not being complicity in someone else’s struggle?

Educate yourself

The South African Constitution and the Bill of Rights are freely available to anyone around the globe by simply going to www.gov.za  It’s that simple. Find out what human rights are granted and protected in South Africa, if not to protect others, to protect yourself from being a victim of human rights violations. Google is your friend.  Read up about human rights violations across the world and the impact that they have had on the victims of these violations. It may make you think twice about your next flippant joke.

Speak Up

Edmund Burke once wrote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  South Africans are a proud nation and a hard-working nation, but often we are also a nation that looks the other way. We don’t make waves. We say things like “Not my circus…”. The problem with that approach is that nothing changes. People suffer. And then we complain that nobody does anything. If you are a victim of human rights abuse or know of someone that is, you can approach the South African Human Rights Commission at www.sahrc.org.za No one can do anything to help or change a situation if no one knows.

Craig Stadler is a contributing writer for the Anova Health Institute, and these are his views, which may or may not reflect those of Anova and its affiliates.

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