ISSUE 14 | 2016
LGBTI rights are human rights
I trust that we all read carefully Circular No. 3 of 2016, from DDG Vusumuzi Mkhize. It’s on applications made at Home Affairs offices by some of our citizens in terms of the Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Act, 2003 (Act No. 49 of 2003).
DDG Mkhize notes the “uncertainty” in dealing with applications of this nature. He seeks correctly to encourage officials, particularly those at the coalface of delivery, at our front offices where we serve clients, to familiarise themselves with the Act and its application. But all of us, as Home Affairs people, have a duty to read and promote the application of the Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Act, 2003 and, of course, other national legislation relating to gender equality.
I therefore want to reiterate the instruction that upon receipt of any application for alteration of the birth register of any client whose sexual characteristics have been altered by surgical or medical treatment, by evolvement through natural development resulting in gender reassignment or is intersexed, front office officials should adhere to all internal processes applicable, ensuring consistently, and without fail, all clients are treated in a manner that is humane, respectful and fair.
The Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Act provides also for the amendment of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992 (Act No. 51 of 1992), through the insertion of section 27 A, which reads thus:
“(1) If the Director-General grants an application or a magistrate issues an order in terms of section 2 of the Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Act, 2003, the Director-General shall alter the sex description on the birth register of the person concerned.
“(2) An alteration so recorded shall be dated and after the recording of the said alteration the person concerned shall be entitled to be issued with an amended birth certificate.”
However, for the Home Affairs Director-General to grant an application, as officials indeed you have a critical role to play. It rests on your shoulders meticulously to ensure that,
- Applications from clients are properly received and quality assured,
- Required documents, in support of the application, are submitted
- The prescribed form (DHA-526) is duly completed,
- All internal processes applicable to front offices are adhered to, and that,
- The application is forwarded to Head Office for consideration and further processing.
With these procedures followed as per Practice Note issued by DDG Mkhize, Head Office may then be capacitated to follow internal processes and duly consider each application on merit. Please communicate instantly the outcome to the applicants and explain, in the event of an unsuccessful application, what recourse applicants have at their disposal (like an appeal to the Minister).
Colleagues, an important consideration dictating also my approach to this matter is the content of discussions recently I had with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community, in our offices in Hatfield. There raised were concerns grave, about the manner in which persons from this community and their applications were being received at some of our offices.
Serious for me, no doubt also for DDG Mkhize and DDG Nkidi Mohoboko who were with me, was that this meeting set at a very critical time in the process of reimagining Home Affairs as a new, transformed, patriotic, modern and responsive custodian of national identity and status, alive to the democratic values and ethos that underlie the Constitution of the Republic.
It would fly in the face of reality were we to be found wanting in the manner we relate with any section of the population on grounds by all standards irrational and divisive, like gender or sex-orientation, the madness of which would be matched only by those utterly discredited ideologies of the apartheid and colonial enterprises.
It should be clear to all of us what it is the Constitution sought to achieve when it enjoined us together to “recognise the injustices of our past”, “honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land”, and “heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental
Minister of Home Affairs