hivos_says_gay_hate_crime_task_team_south_african_government_stallingA human rights group says that violence against LGBT people in South Africa is increasing and that the South African government must urgently address the problem.

The Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos South Africa) has released a study showing that LGBTI people face harrowing experiences on a daily basis in South Africa and the region.

It said that governments continue to “stall” in establishing and implement policies that will protect LGBTI people in their everyday life.

It revealed that while intolerance towards LGBTI individuals is often attributed to laws which make same sex activity illegal in many countries, there is a high level of intolerance towards LGBTI people even in South Africa with its progressive policies.

This, according to Hivos, is a clear manifestation of failure within the South African government to urgently rollout a strategy to change societal attitudes and create a culture of acceptance and respect for LGBTI people.

The study reported that Iranti-Org, a queer human rights visual media organisation based in Johannesburg, has listed over 41 people allegedly killed in hate crimes between 2001 and 2013.

The study also shows that the attitudes and public pronouncements of politicians, religious and community leaders play a large part in the treatment of LGBTI people in communities and by service providers.

Hivos South Africa urged the justice and constitutional development ministry and other stakeholders involved to fast track the work of the National Task Team, established in 2011 to tackle hate crimes against lesbians and gays, in order to prevent further incidents.

“We want to see a final integrated action plan to take forward the work of the National Task Team already and the sooner it is implemented the better, this can’t be delayed any longer”, said Lee Mondry, Hivos LGBTI Programme Manager.

Following a meeting of the National Task Team in Pretoria last month, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development insisted that the Team was making “steady progress” in its planning, although it has still failed to commit to any timeless.

Hivos also supports the imminent hate crimes legislation, which the government plans to table in Parliament next year, but says this too must be treated as a priority.

“Developing specific legislation on hate crimes will create basis for the criminal justice system to appropriately capture reported cases, investigate them and convict perpetrators. It will also allow for effective coordination between government service providers in order to reduce the impact of secondary victimisation”, Mondry said.

The organisation noted that while crime, violence and other socio economic forces continue to grip the African continent, LGBTI people remain the hardest hit as they face multiple forces fuelled by homophobia.

In 38 African countries same sex conduct is criminalised and punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment or death in some.

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