09 September 2011

SAHA capacitates the LGBTI community on PAIA

With an aim to educate civil society organisations on the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), the South African History Archive facilitated a training workshop about this crucial act on September 7, 2011 at the South African Human Rights Commission headquarters in Johannesburg.

The act gives effect to the constitutional right to access to information and serves as a facilitative platform in exercising the said right. PAIA will be instrumental in assisting the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) sector in their advocacy work to protect their rights. Such rights relate to adoption issues, same-sex marriages and discrimination against sexual orientation among others. This sector will not only have clarity on which department to deal with in order to access specific information, but will know how to go about accessing such information.

Sivu Tywabi, a delegate from People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) commended SAHA's efforts saying: "This training was desperately needed on my part as I constantly have to search, sift and find information on many matters our organization is dealing with. We encountered numerous hurdles in the past when trying to access information but I'm now confident that things will be much smoother," she affirmed.

The South African LGBTI sector, as reported, has been subjected to considerable discrimination and victimization from society stemming partly from ignorance and intolerance. On the other hand, some government departments are yet to establish policies that address the specific needs of people falling under this umbrella. Some of the issues raised at the workshop were the failure by the Department of Health to have a clear policy on how to handle children born intersex and the failure by the Department of Correctional Services not having operational systems and facilities to accommodate the diverse gender dynamics of the South African community.

It is commonly argued that such shortcomings could be attributed to the fact that South Africa is a young nation with a lot to address. Delegates at the workshop reiterated that it does not make it any easier to those denied their rights directly or indirectly through incompetence, lack of knowledge or otherwise.

During the workshop, demonstrations on how to submit a PAIA request was shown to delegates which motivated them in agreeing to submit real requests, outcomes of which will be discussed in a proposed follow-up workshop in the near future.

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