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White Paper on Identity Management in the Pipeline

November 25, 2021

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

A Policy Dialogue on the Rights of Transgender and Intersex persons was recently held to review policies on the protections of Transgender and Intersex persons.

The deputy minister of justice and constitutional development, John Jeffery, referred to the Policy Dialogue during the National Conference on Trans and Gender Diversity Inclusion in Higher Education held in Cape Town.

In a recent statement, the justice and constitutional development department pointed out that the national Policy Dialogue discussed, inter alia, matters relating to Trans and Intersex policies for Legal Gender Recognition and ending Intersex Genital Mutilation in South Africa.

A pivotal outcome of the Dialogue was to draft four policy briefs that focus on challenges faced by transgender and intersex persons in South Africa with a focus on Legal Gender Recognition, Health, Education as well as inclusion and Migration.

During his address, the deputy minister declared that the Policy Dialogue was extremely successful in bringing together a range of diverse stakeholders – from activists to policy makers and government officials – and many important issues around policy and legislation were discussed.

During the Dialogue, participants expressed their support for the work being done in the development of the upcoming White Paper on Identity Management and civil society declared its commitment to engage in the public participation process.

The home affairs department published the Draft Official Identity Management Policy in Government Gazette 44048 at the end of December 2020 for comment.

Cabinet approved the Draft Policy for consultation in November 2020.

According to cabinet, the Draft Policy proposes a number of changes, including amending the Identification Act of 1997 and Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Act of 2003 to align them with the Constitution and the Protection of Personal Information Act of 2013.

Other proposals include the integration of the National Population Register to “enable a single view of a person with features to interface with other government and private sector identity management systems” and the integration of current systems into a biometric-enabled National Identity System.

“The new proposed population register will form the basis of an official e-identity which will serve as the backbone of state and private digital platforms.”

The department pointed out that the Identification Act is more than 20 years old and is not based on a policy that considers key local and global developments in managing official personal information.

“This in part explains why the current legislation and systems are outdated, fragmented and do not fully align with constitutional principles of equality, non-discrimination and human dignity.”

The deputy minister also announced that a future conference Dialogue to focus on health policies affecting transgender and intersex persons is also in the pipeline.