SA LGBTIQ+ Rights Watch: February 2023
OUT LGBT Well-being and MambaOnline publish a monthly overview of reported LGBTIQ+ rights violations, including hate speech, in South Africa. We also look at the status of cases making their way through the criminal justice system. Here is our summary for February 2023.
- In early February, LGBTIQ+ residents of Johannesburg learned that the man sworn into the position of the city’s mayor is a representative of the fervently queerphobic Al Jama-ah political party. Alarmingly, Mayor Thapelo Amad was voted into power by councillors from the ANC and EFF, parties that claim to be supporters of the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community. Amad was also personally congratulated by ANC Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi at his swearing-in ceremony.
- It was revealed that transgender people in the North West province are having to travel long distances to access hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The North West Department of Health (NWDOH) confirmed it does not have facilities that provide HRT for transgender people. The organisation AFSJI said its transgender members in the province, many with limited resources, are forced to travel to Soweto in neighbouring Gauteng to receive the service; a distance of 267km from the North West capital, Mahikeng. The NWDOH Head of Department said that any plans to remedy the situation “are resource dependent and will require appropriate funding”.
- On 16 February, the radical group Pagad characterised the LGBTIQ+ community as no better than thieves or those who commit incest and said that queer people should be punished by God with death. “Those who support, those who promote LGBTQ and those who are involved in this type of behaviour, their punishment by the almighty God is death,” said Pagad National Coordinator Haroon Orrie in a speech in Cape Town. The organisers of Cape Town Pride commented that it is when incidents like this occur “that we are reminded why we still need Pride”.
- The Western Cape Provincial government was attacked for lighting up the Provincial Parliament building in rainbow colours to mark the start of the February Pride celebrations in Cape Town. The Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa said it was “a disgrace” and a “veneration of choices made by a very small minority group of people”. The Cape Town Ulama Board further accused the province of attempting “to normalise and promote the LGBTQIA+ community” which it said was “being forced down our throats”.
- Ongoing attacks by the so-called Grindr Gang against queer men in Gauteng made headlines after four suspects were arrested in connection with these crimes in Johannesburg. The arrests followed an incident on 12 February in which a 26-year-old man was lured via Grindr to an area where he was hijacked, kidnapped and robbed of his personal belongings including bank cards. While police were praised for the arrests it soon became clear that the crisis showed no sign of coming to an end.
- MambaOnline soon after reported the case of a 24-year-old man who became another victim of dating app criminals on 24 February, almost two weeks after the police arrests. He arranged to meet a man he’d been chatting to on Grindr at an apartment block in the South of Johannesburg. Once in the apartment, he was attacked by three men who beat him, threatened him with a knife and forced him to provide access to his cell phone and banking apps, robbing him of R28,000. The traumatised man reported the incident to the police and one individual was arrested.
- OUT LGBT Well-being revealed that after a social media campaign urging victims to come forward, it received 13 reports in February of attacks by the Grindr Gang. These incidents happened in areas of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, including Sandton, Randburg, Fourways, Tembisa, Soweto and Lenasia. The incidents took place between June 2022 and February 2023. Three of the reported cases occurred after the arrest of the four suspects earlier in February. The organisation warned queer men to remain vigilant as it was clear that criminals are still actively preying on new victims via apps or websites like Grindr, Tinder and Ads24. OUT is assisting the victims with legal advice, case monitoring and psychosocial support and referrals. It is also working with CAP, a private security company that has been closely monitoring these incidents.
- It came to light that the DA, another political party that claims to be an ally of the LGBTIQ+ community, is opposed to the long-awaited Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill. The bill has the backing of much of LGBTIQ+ civil society as a tool to help address the discrimination and sometimes deadly violence against queer South Africans. The party argued that the bill will not address the root causes of hate crimes and that it could be used as a political tool. Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, also told MambaOnline that the party was concerned about the inclusion of “gender identity or expression or sex characteristics” in the Bill and claimed (erroneously) that there is no evidence to show that LGBTIQ+ people have faced systematic hate because of those characteristics. Despite the DA’s opposition, the bill continues to work its way through the parliamentary process.
REPORT LGBTIQ+ RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
- If you’ve experienced or witnessed an LGBTIQ+ hate crime, hate speech or any other kind of LGBTIQ+ rights discrimination in South Africa, you can now report it anonymously on your phone at no cost. This will help researchers better understand the problem.
Simply dial *134*382*5# and follow the instructions. If you wish, you can request to be called back for support.
NB: South African phone companies have a pre-set time limit. After 120 seconds you will lose connection. However, if you redial *134*382*5# you can start where you left off.
- If you’d like free support and legal advice, please email OUT on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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