Newbie judge blasted for homophobia

2013-09-01 06:00

Former Constitutional Court judge Yvonne Mokgoro this week had to step in to school a newbie judge in human rights law.

Mokgoro was present at an induction seminar hosted by the International Commission of Jurists for about 30 newly appointed judges from several southern African countries this week.

During an interaction session, one of the new judges in the audience said she did not think she would be able to set aside her personal bias against homosexual people if faced with such a case.

“If you ask me to forget my personal values I don’t think it’s possible. I think the best way is to declare it.”

The judge, who was not identified and could not be interviewed at the conference, said: “I know the best way is to respect them (homosexuals) and as a judge I must respect them but I do not support it.”

But Mokgoro was having none of it.

“When we are appointed as a judge we are sworn in ... and we commit ourselves to serve impartially without fear, favour or prejudice.

“If you cannot disabuse yourself of your prejudices or your stereotypes then maybe you don’t have a place in the judiciary,” said Mokgoro.

The conference discussed the often trying circumstances judges faced in ensuring that the rule of law was maintained and that democratic governance was entrenched.

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