A number of LGBTI and associated groups have accused the Gauteng provincial government and the Ekurhuleni municipality of misusing state funds by hosting what they believe is an ill-conceived hate crime awareness event today, Friday 19 August.

The Treatment Action Campaign, Forum for the Empowerment of Women, SECTION27, Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, OUT, SANAC LGBTI Sector and the Triangle Project said that the one-day event, linked to Women’s Month, has been budgeted at R 764 100.

This, apparently includes entertainment costing R 60 000 for sound and DJ hire, a performing artist costing R 20 000 and refreshments to the value of R 340 000.

The groups questioned why the event includes an extravagant after-party. “Will the after party be celebrating the deaths of the men and women who fell victim to hate crimes because of their sexuality?” they asked in a joint statement.

At least four lesbian women have been brutally murdered in the province since 2007 due, it is believed, to their sexual orientation. Activists say that because hate crimes are not recognised by the law, other murders and rapes may not have been identified as LGBTI hate crimes.

The groups questioned how the expenditure will “be accounted for by legislature since they claimed, on Friday 12 August 2011, that the province does not have any financial resources to address LGBTI challenges”.

The organisations also accused Gauteng and Ekurhuleni officials of not consulting them or other LGBTI organisations in the planning of the event.

“In the last few years Gauteng province has experienced several hate crimes which includes assaults, rapes and murder of lesbians women and transgender community on the basis of their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. Up to now the government has done nothing to deal with these despicable activities that are becoming common place in our communities,” said the groups.

“State funds should be used to upscale or develop programmes in combating hate crimes, educating community members and information dissemination and public awareness programmes that addresses challenges faced by LGBTI people,” they added.

The groups have submitted a number of questions to the Gauteng provincial government and the Ekurhuleni municipality demanding an explanation for the event and insisting that they “look at an appropriate manner of addressing LGBTI issues with LGBTI organisations”.

Attempts by Mambaonline to find out more details about the event from the Gauteng provincial government and Ekurhuleni municipality were unsuccessful at the time of publishing this article.

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