South Africa LGBTIQ+ Rights Watch: April 2024


MambaOnline and OUT LGBT Well-being publish a monthly overview of reported LGBTIQ+ rights violations in South Africa, including hate speech. We also look at the status of cases making their way through the criminal justice system. Here is our summary for April 2024.

Virgin Active Embroiled in Trans Changerooms Fearmongering

Virgin Active South Africa faced transphobic backlash after confirming its policy allowing transgender individuals to use changing rooms that align with their gender identity. The controversy erupted following a tweet by Oupa Ampie questioning the gym’s stance, to which Virgin Active responded that it supports transgender members who have updated their identification documents. This reply sparked a wave of transphobic comments on social media, with many invalidating transgender women’s identities and expressing unfounded fears about safety. Some users even threatened violence and boycotts. Studies show that inclusive policies do not increase safety risks, and in fact, transgender individuals are more likely to face abuse in public facilities.

Equality Court: Gqeberha Store Defends LGBTQ+ Ban as “Religious Freedom”

On 15 April, The Equality Court heard the discrimination case against Dawood Lagardien, the owner of a Gqeberha store, who banned LGBTQ+ individuals, citing “religious freedom.” In July 2023, Lagardien displayed a sign stating, “LGBTQ not welcome at La Gardi – Save our Children,” and managed a WhatsApp group that spread anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech. The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) accused Lagardien of violating the Equality Act and demanded an apology and R500,000 in damages to an NGO. Lagardien defended his actions as expressions of his Islamic beliefs, claiming he was protecting children from “amoral behaviours.” The SAHRC argued that religious beliefs do not justify infringing on others’ rights and that Lagardien’s actions propagated hatred. The case, postponed to August 2024, will also involve Media Monitoring Africa and potentially the Commission for Gender Equality as amici curiae.

SARA’s Colleen Makhubele Slammed for Anti-LGBTIQ+ Attack

Former Johannesburg Council Speaker Colleen Makhubele, now representing her new party South African Rainbow Alliance (SARA), faced backlash for her anti-LGBTIQ+ comments, claiming that “transgender and gay propaganda” is being promoted in schools. Makhubele stated that SARA would oppose the Basic Education Law Amendment (Bela) Bill and introduce “Godly principles” in schools if elected. Her comments, that schools should not teach “how to be gay”, but focus on science and maths, have been criticised by the South African Queer Movement (SAQM). They condemned her stance as contrary to South Africa’s Constitution and Bill of Rights, which protect human dignity, equality, and freedom. SAQM urged the queer community to reject SARA in the 2024 elections, accusing the party of attempting to undermine democratic progress.

Beaten, Strangled and Robbed: New Grindr Gang Syndicate Cases in Durban

The LGBTIQ+ community in KwaZulu-Natal was urged to stay vigilant following reports of a syndicate targeting individuals on the Grindr dating app in Durban. In early April, an LGBTIQ+ individual from Inanda was beaten, strangled, and robbed after meeting someone from the app. The victim, who wished to remain anonymous, was lured to a residence where multiple men attacked him, stole his phone, and emptied his bank account. Kim Lithgow from Same Love Toti reported that police initially responded unprofessionally, despite prior sensitivity training. The incident is part of a wider pattern of violent crimes targeting the LGBTIQ+ community on dating apps in South Africa.

Religious Groups Fuelled Trans Panic Over SA Schools’ “Transgender Ideology”

Conservative South African religious groups incited trans panic among parents, alleging that the Department of Basic Education is indoctrinating children with “transgender ideology” through its Early Childhood Education (ECE) Gender Responsive Pedagogy toolkit. The guide aims to promote gender equality and help teachers address gender biases and stereotypes in early childhood development. Opponents, such as FOR SA, argued that it conflicts with traditional norms and could harm family relationships and educational outcomes. The Department refuted these claims, emphasising the toolkit’s goal to create inclusive and stereotype-free learning environments, and insisted it aligns with South African constitutional values of equality and dignity.

South African YouTuber Calls Trans People “Monsters” and “Things”

OUT LGBT Well-being received a report from a distressed transgender woman about an offensive YouTube video created by the South African account “Skidmarks aka Briekmerke”. Posted on 22 April, the video asserts that “We are being lined up for a wipeout” and warns of “the satanic plans that is in place to destroy us”. The speaker praises images of stereotypically masculine men “that tamed this world… and civilised it” before showing a photo of male trans model Casil McArthur, whom he describes as “shit like this”. The YouTuber goes on to slam racial integration in schools “as a big red light… that shouldn’t have been crossed” and feminism for convincing women that they are equal to men. He goes on exclaim that trans men are not men, they are “fucking monsters, creatures!” He also describes an individual wearing a rainbow top as “a fucking thing!” OUT has engaged with the SA Human Rights Commission on the video which has more than 5,400 views.

  • Have you experienced or witnessed an LGBTIQ+ rights violation such as a hate crime, hate speech or any other kind of LGBTIQ+ discrimination in South Africa? If you’d like to bring it to the attention of the LGBTIQ+ community, email
  • If you need free support to uphold your LGBTIQ+ rights, please email OUT at
  • Did you know you can lodge a complaint of unfair discrimination or hate speech (at no cost and without a lawyer), in the Equality Courts, which are located across South Africa? For more information, read OUT’s guide to using the Equality Courts.

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