Caster Semenya believes her case is about equality and inclusivity in sport (Photo: Commission for Gender Equality)
Caster Semenya says that her historic case in the European Court of Human Rights is not just about her right to compete, but for all other athletes who are and will be discriminated against by unfair gender restrictions.
Semenya, together with her lawyers and civil rights organisations, including the Commission for Gender Equality, held a press conference on Friday in Johannesburg to announce a campaign to support her upcoming hearing at the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights on the 15th of May.
The court in Strasbourg will hear an appeal by the Swiss government against the July 2023 judgment that World Athletics is bound by international law and may not discriminate against anyone without compelling reasons.
This followed the 2018 decision by World Athletics (formerly known as the International Association of Athletics Federations) to require athletes like Semenya, who have what is known as a difference of sexual development (DSD), to artificially reduce their testosterone level when competing in several events.
This has meant that Semenya has not been allowed to compete in her preferred events since 2019.
“This trial has taught me to love myself. My goal is to educate everyone that as people we are different and we should embrace that. We need to learn more about humanity. I want to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves,” said Semenya.
According to her lawyers from Norton Rose Fulbright, while some of the work in Semenya’s case has been done on a pro bono basis, more than R30 million has been spent fighting for her rights. They will need an additional R3 million for a full team of experts to represent Semenya in May.
“This case is about protecting the women’s body.”
“No one has resiliently fought for human rights and dignity in athletics as much as Caster has done. We have been with her through many rounds of trials against World Athletics. The case needs a lot of financial support,” said Patrick Bracher from Norton Rose Fulbright.
Caseter acknowledged her long journey in having to defend her right to compete. “I have been fighting this case for a decade. I now advocate for human rights, because this is about inclusivity and diversity. I have faced scrutiny about my being. This case is about protecting the women’s body.”
The Grand Chamber ruling will be the final decision in a case that will impact current and future athletes, many from the Global South, whose careers would be restricted by narrow and arbitrary definitions of gender.
“You know that I am a woman of less words. Actions, they speak louder than words. My work now is just to advocate for those who are silent – I can do that work for them. So if each and everyone out there can come onboard, we can help these young kids that are affected,” the former Olympic champion said.
“We lack funds, we have a lot of experts that need to come that we need to pay, so anything that you may contribute makes a huge difference. Your help would be highly appreciated,” appealed Semenya.
Below are the bank details to which members of the public and organisations can donate to assist Semenya’s legal case.
Ahmed Gani Trust Account
Acc No 200297740
Branch Code: 007205
Swift Code: SBZAZAJJ