Government officials must go for gender sensitivity training, says justice minister

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Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola.
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola.
  • Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has called on all government officials to undergo gender sensitivity training.
  • This training should prepare officials to serve the LGBTIQ+ community.
  • Lamola admitted that there was still some way to go in creating inclusive government institutions.

Government officials must undergo gender and LGBTIQ+ sensitivity training, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola has said.

Addressing a historic policy dialogue on Intersex and Transgender Rights in South Africa on Thursday, Lamola said government officials must be trained to become "familiar with what LGBTIQ+ persons require and how best to serve them".

The dialogue is a partnership with the European Union and Civil Society organisations, in which South Africa would be reviewing policies on the protection of transgender and intersex persons.

READ | Transgender woman wins fight to express her gender in a men's prison

Lamola had already instructed the gender unit in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development as well as the Department of Correctional Services that this must be implemented "with dedication and speed".

"This must be a measurable performance target in any department's annual performance plan," said Lamola.

He added:

I think this should be, without a doubt, the starting point for all government departments, particularly those in the front line of providing services, gender sensitivity and the sensitisation around the needs of LGBTIQ+ persons should be prioritised.

"We must recognise the positive strides we have made... Chief amongst those is the promulgation of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act. Through this legalisation, the democratic government recognises that significant progress has been made in restructuring and transforming of our society and institutions. Discrimination has no place in our constitutional democracy," said Lamola.

However, systemic inequalities and unfair discrimination remain deeply embedded in society, said Lamola.

He added:

Equality is still conditional in many of our communities.

Lamola referenced a 2019 Equality Court case, in which inmate and transgender woman Jade September, won the battle for her right to express her gender identity while serving a sentence in a male prison.

"If we are able to prioritise equality and dignity in total pursuit of fulfilling our constitutional democracy, we will not have another Jade September experience. I certainly think that the experience of Jade September in our facilities is deeply regrettable and an indication of just how untransformed our own institutions can be," he added.

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