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Understanding Human Dignity$
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Christopher McCrudden

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265642

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265642.001.0001

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Dignity and Disgrace: Moral Citizenship and Constitutional Protection

Dignity and Disgrace: Moral Citizenship and Constitutional Protection

(p.467) 27 Dignity and Disgrace: Moral Citizenship and Constitutional Protection
Understanding Human Dignity

Edwin Cameron

British Academy

Apartheid’s race discrimination branded blacks inferior, leaving a residue of indignity that was perceived and experienced as shameful. This explains the pivotal significance of dignity in the South African Constitution. Hence the Constitutional Court has created a normative framework for South Africans to assert personhood without the shameful stigmata of past subordination. The Court’s strong protection of sexual orientation is best understood against this backdrop. While there is no ready comparison between race and sexual orientation discrimination, both brand those they subordinate as inferior and thus as the objects of shame. The Court’s jurisprudence on gays and lesbians has, therefore, afforded equality, but also addressed the shameful subordination of the past by enabling gays and lesbians to assert themselves as equal moral citizens who can fulfil their capacities as humans without shame.

Keywords:   dignity, equality, sexual orientation, marriage, gays and lesbians

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