There’s been progress in deciding which activist groups will sit, alongside representatives of the South African government, on the proposed LGBT hate crimes task team.

Ndumie Funda, founder of Luleki Sizwe, the Western Cape lesbian corrective rape support group that spearheaded the discussion of hate crimes with government,
commented on Wednesday: “Today I am happy to see all of us at this table, to hear voices who were missing before talking and getting to work on what is important.”

According to a statement from the organisation, while government has been ready to proceed with the joint task team there have been difficulties and delays in putting forward names of civil society activists to take part.

Luleki Sizwe said that this was due to the sector being “diverse, underfunded and over extended at the best of times” as well as admitting that there was also “a power struggle and confusion on criteria and who would be coordinating the task team”.

Members of the Joint working Group (JWG), a network of LGBT organisations, wanted further study of the context, communities and socio-economic forces that lead to hate crimes. It also suggested a broad-based national discussion or convention to identify key areas, communities and proposed candidates for the task team.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), however, was of the opinion that the task team should be formed as soon as possible. Even if imperfect, it would be a starting point from which the process can be improved through research and by inviting other parties for consultation.

Minister of Justice will attend some meetings

Activists have now agreed to establish an interim task team to deal with the murders, attacks and corrective rape cases on an ongoing basis. At the same time, an “imbizo” (discussion forum) will be arranged to discuss these issues and to elect permanent task team members.

This imbizo will also ensure that the permanent task team will include the voices and opinions of parties who have been left out of the establishment of the interim task team.

The interim task team will consist of ten representatives from the following civil society groups:

  • Four representative from the Joint Working Group

  • A representative from a gender-based violence NPO or community-based organisation (CBO)

  • A representative from a HIV/ AIDS NPO or CBO

  • A representative from COSATU

  • A representative from Luleki Sizwe

  • A representative from Free Gender

  • A representative from Human Rights Watch

These organisations have until 28 June to put forward their nominees. The interim task team members will be announced to the public and to the DOJ on 29 June.

The task team will then meet on 14 July to finalise the plan of action and terms of reference for the task team, escalate ongoing and new cases of hate crimes, and establish the task teams’ processes and financial and human resources. The team will also plan the national imbizo to discuss hate crimes and elect a permanent task team.

All LGBT organisations have been asked to submit suggested terms of reference for the task team and any cases of homophobic hate crimes that need attention and escalation by 14 July.

Luleki Sizwe said that the DOJ will be meeting with other government departments to decide how much budget will be allocated to the interim task team. It noted that some members of the team will need flights and accommodation to attend the meeting on 14 July.

Tladi Tlali, spokesperson for the Minister of Justice, Jeff Radebe, announced that while Radebe would not be able to regularly lead meetings of the task team he would attend some meetings to convey key messages and to address pertinent issues.

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