An Mpumalanga teenager attempted to commit suicide after bullies covered him in red paint because he is gay.
Health24 reported that 16-year-old Selby Ndlovu from the rural Mangweni community has endured years of abuse and bullying over his sexuality.
“It all started as innocent laughter and I even used to laugh with them, but over the years it became uncomfortable and abusive,” he said.
“I was called names that I wouldn’t even say aloud to myself. Last month, it became too much to bear when they poured paint all over my body.”
Ndlovu was so humiliated and traumatised he decided to take his own life with an overdose of pills. Thankfully he was found by his sister and saved.
“Being gay doesn’t define the real me and doesn’t make me less of a male,” the teen told Health24. “These people are supposed to be my friends, brothers and sisters. I wish people will understand that I didn’t choose to be gay”.
He added: “Even though my whole family has accepted me, I still have to live my life based on my community’s approval.”
Ndlovu’s mother pledged to support her son no matter what challenges he faces from others.
There is little research into the plight of LGBT youth in South Africa, but there is growing awareness of the issue.
In 2014, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Network said that reports of bullying and abuse of LGBTI students in schools “are on the increase.”
Many of these cases not only involve fellow school pupils but also teachers and school officials, who have been known to call LGBT students “satanic”.
The network noted that suicide is a serious problem amongst LGBTI youth with 31% stating that they have had thoughts of committing suicide and 21% saying they have attempted to commit suicide.
A 2006 study also showed that 20% of gay/bisexual teenage males and 19% of lesbian/bisexual teenage females had been raped or sexually assaulted.