Monday, September 16, 2019

Swaziland LGBTI group cannot be registered because ‘Constitution does not protect against discrimination’

The newly-formed group the Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities (ESGM) failed in its attempt to become the first LGBTI group to be officially registered in Swaziland / eSwatini.

The group advocates for rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in the kingdom where sexual acts between men are illegal.

In a letter to the group’s lawyer rejecting an application for registration, Registrar of Companies Msebe Malinga said it was clear that that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sex was not protected by the kingdom’s Constitution nor in domestic laws.

‘It will be inappropriate for the registrar of companies to register an entity whose objectives are not provided for in the Constitution or any legislation,’ part of the letter read.

Swaziland is a deeply conservative kingdom ruled by the absolute monarch King Mswati III. The King has in the past described homosexuality as ‘satanic’. 

Malinga added, ‘The Companies Act is not relevant legal authority to address the objectives of the Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities.’

ESGM has a number of objectives including to advance the protection of the rights of LGBTI people in Swaziland and reduce harm that affect their wellbeing based upon sexual orientation and gender identity.

The rejection came shortly after the publication of a report that LGBTI people in Swaziland suffered mental health issues and many had attempted suicide because of the way they were discriminated against in the kingdom.

The study found evidence of serious human rights violations against Swazi people who were LGBTI. The report concluded they suffered ‘social exclusion, marginalisation and stigma’ because they were seen as being different from the rest of the population.

The report written by two academics and the Southern and East African Research Collective on Health called for same-sex activity to be decriminalised in Swaziland. It also called for legal reform to abolish laws which contribute to stigma, prejudice and discrimination against sexual and gender minority people living in the kingdom, including men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women.

See also

LGBTI discrimination in Swaziland leads to big mental health issues, report finds

LGBT Pride film shows what it’s like to live with prejudice and ignorance in Swaziland

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