While the world mourns the murder of 49 people in Orlando, there is no sign of hatred against LGBT people abating on social media.
On Wednesday, Mabine Seabe, spokesperson for the DA’s national leader Mmusi Maimane, condemned a call by Johannesburg Facebook user Gerhard de Bruyn for people to “SHOOT TO KILL” gay men.
De Bruyn’s comments came in the wake of Sunday’s horrific slaughter at the Pulse gay nightclub in Florida.
“To incite violence on a group of people – whose sexual orientation, race, gender or religion differs from your own – must be treated with the contempt it deserves,” said Seabe.
He added: “It’s completely disgusting and backward for someone to hold such a view.”
Sadly, de Bruyn’s comment is not a rare expression of anti-LGBT hate on social media in South Africa.
This was evident in reactions to an article on the Netwerk 24 Facebook page about local soap star Jacques Pepler coming out as gay after the Orlando massacre.
One woman, Elaine Viviers, who slammed the actor’s coming out, revelled in the slaughter of 49 people by writing “Lekker Orlando” (Awesome, Orlando) in a post.
Shockingly, Viviers, who also made a number of other anti-gay statements on the page, works at a primary school in Mpumalanga. It’s frightening to think of her influence on young minds.
Another man, Conrad Nel, who, according to his Facebook page, works at the University of the Free State, also responded to Pepler’s coming out by stating: “Skiet hom ook” (Shoot him too). Others also expressed their disgust of gay people, most citing their Christian beliefs.
While the worst of the comments have now been removed, Jenny Pinkus from Johannesburg screengrabbed them and alerted Mambaonline to these clear examples of hate speech.
The comments are not simply offensive and vile, but indicate that some South Africans really appear to believe that it is acceptable to murder people in cold blood because of their sexuality.
It is also deeply disappointing to realise that while the media and authorities are (rightfully) up in arms about recent incidents of racist speech, those blatantly calling for the killing of LGBT people do not seem to warrant equal attention or condemnation.
Update: The University of the Free State has confirmed that Nel is not one of their employees.