SAHRC takes Limpopo education department‚ ex-principal to equality court for 'humiliating and harrassing' transgender pupil
In what promises to be a landmark case‚ the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has instituted proceedings in the Seshego Equality Court in Limpopo on behalf of a transgender secondary school pupil.
"The case arises from allegations of humiliation and harassment based on the gender identity of the learner that created a hostile and intimidating environment‚" the commission said on Monday.
"The proceedings have been instituted to procure relief for alleged unfair discrimination‚ harassment‚ and hurtful speech." The respondents in the case are the Limpopo Department of Education and a former school principal. Neither the school nor the principal was identified.
The Commission said it was concerned that lesbian‚ gay‚ bisexual‚ transgender and intersex (LBGTI) people‚ "continue to face victimisation‚ discrimination and violations of their rights basic rights. In particular‚ their rights to human dignity and equality are violated most often".
"Our courts have pronounced on the systemic discrimination faced by LGBTI persons. This discrimination is made even more egregious when it is directed at children."
The SAHRC said schools were particularly important as the‚ "provide a place of learning‚ social development and social encounter for children with various sexual orientations and sexual identities‚ who come from various ethnicities‚ religions and backgrounds. Simultaneously‚ schools are also places where the exercise of authority may render certain groups vulnerable".
"The commission is of the view that schools have a clear obligation to adopt reasonable measures to avoid painful psychological and sometimes traumatic impact on minor learners. In an open and democratic society based on human dignity‚ equality‚ and freedom‚ special pains must be taken by all actors in the education sector to ensure these values and rights are protected."
The commission said the Constitution "unequivocally" protects the rights of people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
"The matter initiated at the Equality Court emanates from the commission’s mandate to protect all human rights‚ including the rights of transgender people‚ and to promote the values of equality and dignity at the heart of our Constitution.
"The constitutional rights of transgendered people in general‚ and transgendered minors in particular‚ to enjoy the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms should be respected and protected in all spheres of society‚ including places of learning."
- TMG Digital