The National Task Team (NTT) on Gender and Sexual Orientation-Based Violence was established by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ & CD) in March 2011. The aim of the NTT is to address human rights concerns and violations amongst Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) persons. Most worrying has been the spate of attacks against Black, lesbian women in the form of ‘corrective rape’ within various South African communities. The DOJ & CD thus saw fit to initiate engagement with other government departments, Chapter 9 Institutions and civil society organisations (CSOs) that specialise in diverse rights and legal matters relating to LGBTI persons, guided by the South African Constitution which guarantees equality and prohibits discrimination on multiple grounds including sexual orientation. This may be referred to as a National Intervention Strategy (NIS) whose intention it is to formulate mechanisms that counter the problem of gender and sexual orientation-based violence against LGBTI persons paying particular attention to the criminal justice system. Furthermore, the purpose of the NTT is to implement, monitor, and evaluate the NIS. The main objectives are:
- To strengthen government’s ability to respond to the needs and vulnerabilities of LGBTI persons, as well as complementing and re-enforcing the capacity of CSOs that provide services, are involved in advocacy and have access to LGBTI persons.
- To create links with other government departments and initiatives within the DOJ & CD such as the Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance programme, as well as other Chapter 9 Institutions that promote the rights of the LGBTI community, thus making use of a multiple and intersectoral approaches for greater positive impact on the lives of LGBTI persons.
- To create awareness and improve the capacity of key services such as the South African Police Services, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Department of Social Development, the Department of Health as well as Correctional Services in order to eliminate gaps within the criminal justice system and provide better access to justice for LGBTI persons.
The Working Group of the NTT further established a Rapid Response Team (RTT) comprised of representatives of the DOJ & CD, the National Prosecuting Authority, the South African Police Services and CSOs. The RTT was created to respond to pending cases in the criminal justice system for crimes levelled against LGBTI persons. This initiative has both medium and long term goals. It is the objective to take full advantage of opportunities that the existing legal environment provides and is upheld by the Constitution. In addition, the NTT has formulated Provincial Task Teams (PTTs) in the Northern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga whose activities will be coordinated by the Regional Offices of the DOJ & CD, and more are yet to be formed in other parts of the country. It is therefore the goal of the NTT to tackle gender and sexual orientation-based violence in conjunction with other key role-players making use of diverse strategies in order to guarantee the realisation of the rights of LGBTI persons.