25-year-old Duduzile Zozo was strangled and raped with a toilet brush in Thokoza, east of Johannesburg, in 2013
A survey has found that up to 1,2 million people in South Africa’s most populous province are likely to support violence against gays and lesbians.
The chilling statistic was uncovered by the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) Quality of Life Survey, which is run every two years.
Field workers asked over 27,000 Gauteng residents to agree or disagree with three questions relating to homosexuality. This was the first time these questions were included in the survey.
Promisingly, the researchers found that 71% of those polled believe that gay and lesbian people “deserve equal rights with all other South Africans”. Twenty-two percent, however, did not agree.
On the question, “Homosexuality is against the values of my community,” 37% agreed or strongly agreed, 46,6% disagreed or strongly disagreed, while 16.3% neither agreed nor disagreed.
Most disturbingly, 13% – equivalent to 1,2 million people in the province – agreed with the statement that “it is acceptable to be violent towards gays and lesbians.”
The shocking statistic could help explain the ongoing incidents of violence against LGBTI people in the province, particularly black lesbian and gender non-conforming women.
The study further found that the better educated the respondents were, the more likely they were to be accepting of LGBTI people.
GCRO Researcher Guy Trangoš told Mambaonline that, “We were surprised at the high levels of tolerance demonstrated in the findings.” He noted that, “responses to these LGBTI questions were much more positive than those that dealt with either abortion or xenophobia. Gauteng, as demonstrated here, could be a beacon of LGBTI tolerance in Africa.”
Trangoš admitted, however, that it was “alarming” that “13% of respondents believe that it was acceptable to be violent towards LGBTI people.”
Gauteng appears to be a generally more tolerant place than the rest of South Africa. The Pew Research Centre’s 2013 Global Attitudes survey released last year, found that 62% of South Africans see homosexuality as unacceptable. Only 18% said that being gay is acceptable.
“These deep prejudices are unacceptable today, hard to change, and have led to heinous violence towards LGBTI people, and other ‘different peoples’, such as foreign nationals. Despite this, we need to celebrate these generally positive results as an achievement by all sectors of society who have worked to improve attitudes towards LGBTI people,” commented Trangoš.
The GCRO is a partnership between the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits) and the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) and is charged with providing information to government, business, labour, civil society and citizens.