Violence against LGBT+ Community in South Africa continues

In South Africa there has been continued outcry from activists in the LGBT+ community against the authorities in light of continued attacks on LGBTI people – in particular lesbian and bi women. In the last month two openly lesbian women, Nonkie Smous and Lerato Moloi were murdered in Kroostad and Naledi respectively, within 2 weeks of one another. The murders have been widely reported as hate crimes motivated by the women’s sexual orientation. Although the South African constitution is the first in the world to protect people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, there is a disparity between the law and attitudes of many citizens. A recent hate crime study by OUT LGBT Well-Being and the Love not Hate campaign found that 41% of LGBT people in South Africa knew someone who has been murdered due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Furthermore the same study found that 88% of LGBT people who had experienced one or more incidents of discrimination in the past 24 months said they had not reported any of the incidents to the police. Key reasons cited included judging the offence as not serious enough, reasons related to the police/justice system, and fears of repercussions from the offender/members of the community.

There has been criticism from LGBT+ activists of the criminal justice system for its response to attacks against the LGBT+ community. In 2011 global outcry at the murder of several lesbians in South Africa led to a petitionsigned by over 170,000 people calling for the government to act. The government responded by announcing the creation of a National Task Team (NTT). The Task Team was charged with addressing Gender and Sexual orientation-based violence against LGBT+ people, particularly within the criminal justice system. However, in the last year just 1 of the 26 cases submitted to the Task Team has been successfully resolved. The Rapid Response Team, set up in 2014 to fast track LGBT+ cases has been similarly criticised for its lack of results. On the 9th May the Love Not Hate campaign launched their 5-Justice Denied Campaign which selected 5 outstanding cases of violence and/or discrimination against members of the LBGT+ community in order to highlight the lapses in the justice system where LGBT+ people are concerned.

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Robyn K