The protection of African transgender women's rights to dignity, life and health through a teleological reading of the Maputo Protocol

Snyman, Tegan Colleen (2019-12)

Thesis (LLM)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: International human rights law asserts that all individuals are born free and equal in dignity and rights. The principle of universality, read together with the rights to equality and non-discrimination, embody this pronouncement and reaffirm that all human rights are bestowed unto all humans because they are human. This is accepted and reflected in most regional and domestic legal systems worldwide. Nonetheless, on the African continent, this pronouncement does not guarantee protection of the human rights of African individuals with non-normative gender identities. African transgender women in particular are an invisible minority, often misidentified as homosexual men. As a result, they frequently become victims of violence, discrimination and stigma. Because of their non-normativity and the denial of their gender identities and womanhood, these women are deprived of legal recognition and the protection of their rights. Moreover, this discrimination and the subsequent violations against them are justified by states as part of their cultural beliefs and/or traditions. Accordingly, the argument of the ‘relativism’ of human rights is presented by many states as defence for the prioritisation of ‘religious and cultural’ rights over gender identity rights. However, this is a failure of states to recognise that individuals with non-normative gender identities are human beings, entitled to their fundamental human rights. Treaties are a key mechanism of international law. Accordingly, treaty interpretation is an important tool to understand and implement international law. Whilst there are three approaches to interpretation typically recognised, the teleological approach to treaty interpretation, also known as the purposive approach, is argued to be the most effective in the interaction with human rights treaties. The Maputo Protocol is a regional African treaty which codifies the rights of African women. In the Maputo Protocol ‘women’ are defined by their female gender. Therefore, this thesis assesses whether African transgender women are recognised and protected through a teleological interpretation of the Maputo Protocol, in consideration of the definition for women set out in the Protocol. This assessment is done through an application of post-modern intersectional feminist legal theory, queer legal theory, the principle of universality as well as the rights to equality, non-discrimination and dignity.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die internasionale menseregte regsraamwerk bevestig dat alle individue gelyk en vry in waardigheid en regte gebore word. Die beginsel van universaliteit, wat saam met die regte tot gelykheid en nie-diskriminasie gelees word, beliggaam hierdie uitspraak en bevestig dat alle menseregte aan alle mense toegeken word omdat hulle menslik is. Dit word in die meeste plaaslike- en binnelandse regstelsels wêreldwyd aanvaar en weerspieël. Nietemin, op die vasteland van Afrika, is dit vir Afrika-individue met nie-normatiewe seksuele oriëntasies en gender-identiteite nie ‘n waarborg nie. As ‘n onsigbare minderheid is dit veral transgender-vroue in Afrika wat dikwels as homoseksuele mans verkeerd geïdentifiseer en verstaan word. Hierdie miskenning het die gevolg dat hulle gereeld slagoffers van geweld, diskriminasie en stigma is. Vanweë hul nie-normatiewe identiteit en die ontkenning van hul gender-identiteite en vroulikheid, word hierdie vroue van formele regserkenning en die beskerming van hul fundamentele regte ontneem. Boonop word hierdie diskriminasie en die daaropvolgende menseregte skendings deur state geregverdig as deel van hul kulturele oortuigings en/of tradisies. Gevolglik word die argument van die 'relativisme' van menseregte deur baie state voorgehou as regverdiging vir die prioritisering van 'godsdienstige en kulturele' regte bo gender-identiteit regte. Dit is egter 'n mislukking van state om te erken dat individue met nie-normatiewe gender-identiteite mense is wat die reg op hul fundamentele menseregte het nie. Die werking van internasionale reg geskied deur die kodifisering van verdrae. Daarom is verdragsinterpretasie 'n belangrike hulpmiddel om die internasionale reg te verstaan en te implementeer. Alhoewel daar drie benaderings tot interpretasie wat tipies erken word, is, word die teleologiese benadering tot verdragsinterpretasie, ook bekend as die doelgerigte benadering, as die doeltreffendste in die wisselwerking met menseregte verdrae aangevoer. Die Maputo-protokol is 'n plaaslike verdrag in Afrika wat die regte van vroue kodifiseer. 'Vroue', soos in die verdrag omskryf, word gedefinieer deur hul vroulike geslag. Daarom evalueer hierdie tesis of transgender-vroue in Afrika erken en beskerm word deur 'n teleologiese interpretasie van die Maputo-protokol, inaggenome van die definisie van vroue wat in die protokol uiteengesit word. Hierdie evaluering word deur middel van 'n post-moderne intersectional feministiese regsteorie, queer regsteorie, die beginsel van universaliteit, sowel as die regte op gelykheid, nie-diskriminasie en waardigheid gedoen.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107060
This item appears in the following collections: