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The BBC's Greg Barrow
A black and a white South African give their views on the bill
 real 28k

Wednesday, 26 January, 2000, 17:45 GMT
South Africa bans discrimination

Shack settlement South Africa still feels the effects of apartheid

South Africa's parliament has approved legislation outlawing many forms of discrimination that remain after the official end of apartheid.

The controversial law will outlaw forms of racial and sexual discrimination, including the barring of hate speech, and prohibit discrimination on the grounds of disability.

Racist terms to be banned
Justice Minister Penuell Maduna says the legislation is much needed.

"It will go a long way in contributing to the total transformation of society from one characterised by the inequalities and injustices of apartheid to one where the universal principles of equality, fairness, justice and human dignity apply to everyone," he said.

However, the opposition Democratic Party has criticised the legislation as another form of apartheid.

HIV excluded

Other critics are disappointed that the bill will not outlaw discrimination against people with HIV - the result of pressure from the insurance industry.

Witness at commission The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has played a key role since apartheid ended
In a speech last month, South African President Thabo Mbeki said the challenge of the 21st century would be to root out the "cancer of racism" from the Rainbow Nation.

And he suggested that consideration should be given to convening a National Congress Against Racism.

But in addition to racism, the new law bans discrimination on grounds of

  • sexual orientation
  • age
  • culture
  • pregnancy
  • marital status
  • conscience
  • social standing
  • language

The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Bill is one of four important pieces of legislation that, under the constitution, have to be signed into law by 4 February, three years since the constitution came into effect.

Although the constitution has outlawed most forms of discrimination since 1994, the new law will for the first time enforce non-discrimination in relations between individuals.

'Big Brother' bill passed

On Tuesday South Africa's parliament passed the much criticised Promotion of Access to Information Bill, dubbed the "Big Brother" Bill, which hands the state sweeping powers of access to personal information.

We have not won the struggle against racism
Thabo Mbeki Dec '99
The government says the bill will increase transparency, giving individuals access to information that might affect their rights.

But opponents say a clause added to the bill less than two weeks ago that also gives the state equal rights to demand access to private files, is reminiscent of the powers of the authoritarian state in George Orwell's novel 1984.

A joint news conference by four opposition parties last week described the clause as "unconstitutional" and a "massive invasion of the rights of the private individual".

The Democratic Party, the New National Party, the Freedom Front, the United Christian Democratic Party and the African Christian Democratic Party all voted against the bill, because of the new clause.

The other two bills cover transparency in government and promotion of businesses owned by people who are not white.

They are designed to complement the Bill of Rights and put the finishing touches to the end of apartheid.

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See also:
26 Jan 00 |  Africa
Analysis: Discrimination taints 'rainbow nation'
01 Jan 00 |  Africa
Sorry, whites only
08 Jan 00 |  Africa
Racism 'still rife' in South Africa
26 Dec 99 |  Africa
The birth and death of apartheid
28 Oct 98 |  Africa
Coming to terms with the past
28 Oct 98 |  Truth and Reconciliation
Seeking reconciliation: Timeline
15 Dec 99 |  Africa
South Africa targets domestic violence
01 Dec 97 |  Africa
A new role for Afrikaans

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