SAHRC welcomes discrimination court ruling against Semenya

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has welcomed the finding by the European Court of Human Rights that the World Athletics Regulations discriminated against Caster Semenya.

On Tuesday, Semenya won her appeal against testosterone rules that she should take testosterone-lowering medication to be eligible to compete as a woman in international sporting events.

The SAHRC filed its submission as third-party intervener before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR SAHRC) in the matter of Semenya v Switzerland in 2021, after the 800m Olympic champions was barred from participating at the Tokyo Olympics.


“The Court found that Ms Semenya had not been afforded sufficient institutional and procedural safeguards in Switzerland to allow her to have her complaints examined effectively, especially since her complaints concerned what it held to be substantiated and credible claims of discrimination as a result of her increased testosterone level caused by differences of sex development (DSD,” Read the statement.

“The Court found that Switzerland had overstepped the narrow margin of appreciation afforded to it in the present case, which concerned discrimination on grounds of sex and sexual characteristics requiring “very weighty reasons” by way of justification.

“These factors should have led to a thorough institutional and procedural review – but Ms Semenya had not been able to obtain such a review.

“The Commission extends its sincere gratitude to the excellent legal team, expert committee and its own staff for their tireless work in reaching this important milestone in the Commission’s endeavour to promote equality and help eliminate discrimination in its various guises.”

Despite winning her case, Semenya’s return to the track remains unclear, as the ruling did not provide any specification in that regard.

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