Bujy Bikwa assault arrest sparks online homophobia

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Presenter and podcaster Bujy Bikwa is accused of assault

The shocking alleged assault by gay media personality Bujy Bikwa of entertainer Boity Thulo has been used as an excuse by online bigots to spout homophobia.

According to media reports, Bikwa spent the weekend in jail after he was arrested for assault. It’s been alleged that the former Metro FM presenter got into a heated argument with Thulo at the Courtyard Hotel Waterfall City in Midrand on Thursday night. 

It’s claimed that Bikwa threw a bottle at Thulo, cutting her face and leading to her hospitalisation – and possibly requiring future plastic surgery.

In an online statement, Thulo said that she was “an unfortunate victim of a vicious physical assault and that I have since opened a case against the culprit.”

She added: “I respectfully request some space as I try find a way to heal both physically and emotionally from this traumatic experience.”

Meanwhile, Bikwa – who hosts the popular podcast Queer Way of Life with Bujy Bikwa – appeared in court on Friday and was denied bail. He has remained in custody pending his next appearance on Wednesday.

The incident became a trending topic on Twitter that reflected widespread queerphobia and ignorance about the difference between sexuality and gender identity. 

There was an often flippant and irresponsible debate about whether the incident qualifies as gender-based violence (GBV). Some media reports also appeared to diminish the seriousness of the assault by referring to it as a “drama”.

A number of Twitter users suggested that the alleged assault could not be classed as GBV because Bikwa is gay; the implication being that he is not a man. “It’s not GBV coz they are both same gender,” said one person, while another warned Bikwa not to “drop the soap” in jail.

In a recent (as yet unpublished) interview with Bikwa, he told MambaOnline that “I am a gay male. I definitely identify as he, him.” 

Adding further fuel to the fire were subsequent reports that Bikwa refused to stay in a cell with other male prisoners and was ultimately given his own cell. 

Some argued that this confirmed that Bikwa did not identify as a man, rather than considering that in light of the high rate of anti-LGBTQ+ violence in South Africa, it was very likely the case that Bikwa feared for his safety. 

Others also took the opportunity to express xenophobic views because Bikwa was born in Zimbabwe.

To be clear, this is not intended in any way as a defence of Bikwa or his alleged actions. Violence is unacceptable, and if guilty of it he must be condemned by all queer people and face the full consequences. But this incident cannot be used to justify attacking a community – especially an already vulnerable one – with prejudice, stereotypes and hate.

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