Submission on the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 2006
The call for public submissions makes it plain that Parliament’s review of the Act will focus on the impact of the statute on women and persons with disabilities. Oursubmission deals squarely with two issues: the proposed express inclusion of HIV/AIDS status as a prohibited ground of unfair discrimination; and access to legal services necessary for the proper implementation of the Act. We believe that the successful resolution of both issues will go a long way towards mitigating the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on groups – such as women, children and persons with disabilities – that are disproportionately affected, both in terms of vulnerability to HIV infection and in dealing with the impact of the epidemic on families and communities.
In this submission we explain the rationale underpinning our key recommendations:
- The express inclusion of HIV/AIDS status as a prohibited ground of unfair discrimination in terms of section 1 (xxii)(a) of the Act; and
- Implementing and/or amending the Act to ensure that every person – and poor people in particular – is able to vindicate his or her right to equality and freedom from unfair discrimination, in accordance with the right of access to courts in section 34 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.
But before doing so, we set the context within which our recommendations are to be considered, by addressing the following issues:
- Extent of the HIV/AIDS epidemic;
- Vulnerability of children orphaned by AIDS and persons with disabilities;
- The importance of protecting PLWHAs from unfair discrimination; and
- The ALP’s engagement with the Act.
We do not specifically address the issue of women’s vulnerability. Instead, we simply refer to – and endorse the findings and recommendations of – the report entitled “How Best Can South Africa Address the Horrific Impact of HIV/AIDS on Women and Girls”, which was unanimously adopted by the Joint Monitoring Committee on the Improvement of the Quality of Life and the Status of Women on 21 November 2001.