The head of the Gauteng Department of Community Safety says she aims to ensure that police stations in the province provide equal service to LGBTI people.
Secondary victimisation by police officers against LGBTI individuals who report discriminatory incidents has long been acknowledged as a critical issue when it comes to tackling hate crimes in South Africa.
LGBTI victims may often face abuse and humiliation by those who are meant to protect them; leading some to simply not report crimes against them.
Speaking at the 2016 Chevrolet Feather Awards nominees announcement at Constitution Hill last week, Yoliswa Makhasi, Gauteng Head of the Department of Community Safety, said that her department is working to ensure that “our police stations in the province are LGBTI friendly, so that we avoid secondary discrimination”.
Makhasi revealed that the department aims to have provided sensitisation training to all police stations in the province within three years.
It will furthermore introduce a monitoring tool “so that when you open a case at a police station we can follow up and get feedback on how you have been treated”.
According to an about-to-be-released report on LGBTI discrimination conducted by OUT LGBT Well-being, 51% of LGBTI people who reported incidents to the police in the previous 24 months said that the police “were not helpful at all”.
In Gauteng, 90% of respondents said they had chosen not to report incidents of discrimination to the police. Their reasons included the fear that police would do nothing or would themselves be homophobic.
Makhasi also revealed that she intends to make law enforcement not only LGBTI friendly to victims of crime but also to those who work or would like to work in the field.
“So that young people who are in law enforcement, who are part of the LGBTI community, do not feel that they have to hide themselves.” she said. “They must feel free and in a space to be able to engage and be who they are.”
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