Minister Lulu Xingwana

The Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana said on Monday that the government was taking measures to deal with hate crimes against LGBTI people in South Africa, reported SAPA.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Pretoria, Xingwana acknowledged that there is a growing trend of attacks against gays and lesbians but said that these hate crimes would now be addressed by the government.

“An assault on gays and lesbians is an assault on our democratic society. Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and intersex communities must be fought on all fronts,” Xingwana said.

“This is indicative of a pervasive culture of intolerance and violence in our society which goes against the grain of our Constitution,” she added.

The minister failed to explain how exactly the government would tackle the problem but said that it would launch the ‘National Council Against Gender-based Violence’ on August 25. It is not clear if LGBTI hate crimes would fall under the council’s mandate.

In May last year, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development announced the formation of a ‘Gender and Sexual Orientation based Violence Task Team,’ but it has accomplished little and has had no visible impact on reducing hate crime attacks against LGBTI people.

Xingwana has had a somewhat contentious relationship with the LGBT community. In 2010, while she was Minister of Art and Culture, Xingwana walked out of an art exhibition which included images of lesbian couples by acclaimed photographer Zanele Muholi, calling them “immoral,” “in opposition to nation building” and “pornographic”.

She later vehemently denied that she was homophobic and said that her actions were in response to the images not being suitable for children who were present at the gallery.

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