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Accept Minority Groups, Says A-G

Society needs to undergo an attitudinal change towards minorities including transgenders, gays and lesbians . This was the message from Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Speaking at the closing of the 16th
08 Dec 2014 11:10
Accept Minority Groups, Says A-G

Society needs to undergo an attitudinal change towards minorities including transgenders, gays and lesbians .

This was the message from Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Speaking at the closing of the 16th Attorney-General’s conference, he said that the Constitution was clear on non-discrimination.

“The Constitution is very, very progressive. It prohibits unfair discrimination on a number of grounds including gender, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity,” he said.

When discussing the rights of minority groups the A-G said: “I am sure we all in this room agree that nobody should be bashed up or physically assaulted simply because a person belongs to a minority group or because one is a homosexual, transgender or looks feminine.

“How we treat individuals in our society is critical in determining how we want to be treated ourselves as individuals. In this respect, society needs an attitudinal change.

“I am not saying that minorities don’t get, for example, physically assaulted. But we should deal with such assaults and discrimination within the wider context of implementing and enforcing human rights. Not necessarily being only relevant to one category of minorities. So a person could get bashed up because they come from a different province or different religion or different school or rugby team. Just as we must view all of these assaults within the wider context which is punishable under the Crimes decree.

“The real issue here is that all assaults irrespective of whether the assaulted person comes from a minority group or not should be treated as such and the charging of the person should not be dependent on who was assaulted.

The law must be applied to all and indeed equally. Regrading specific discrimination because of one’s gender identity such as in the work place, we have now the human rights and anti-discrimination commission.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also highlighted the fact that in order to impress upon society, the need to not discriminate, advocate groups such as Drodrolagi should not generalise about society themselves.

“If for example some police officers have discriminated against homosexuals it does not mean all police officers will or have. Indeed such groups should not generalise and say that all police officers are discriminatory or homophobic.

“You will not win support and lose the ability to find a captive audience even before you start.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also highlighted the need to understand that discrimination can take place within minority groups themselves.

“In other words within women’s groups or homosexual groups there could be discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status and colour,” he said.

“The danger of homogenizing groups is that it hides the injustices within those groups.

“The key of course is to ensure that there must be equality at all levels and which must criss-cross through the different facets, with respect for human dignity at all times.

“No one group has preponderance over others as far as equality and human dignity is concerned and indeed in the application of human rights.”

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