South Africa may have one of the world’s most progressive constitutions, including comprehensive anti-discrimination laws and gay marriage, but gay activist Marianne Thamm thinks their hate crime legislation stinks.
In light of a spate of bloody crimes against lesbians, including the murder of two activists earlier this month, Thamm penned an op-ed blasting the Rainbow Nation’s lackluster investigative tactics…
The pattern is disturbing and police spokespersons have consistently refused to describe these murders as “hate crimes”, claiming there is no proof of this.
The same worrying official denial was evident among police in the Western Cape investigating the death of at least 40 Somali traders who were killed in attacks that were clearly xenophobic.
It is almost as if authorities fear that owning up to the homoprejudice or the xenophobia that drive these crimes might oblige or require them to work differently in solving them. Perhaps they feel that categorising these crimes as “ordinary” might make them all just go away.
And so, while lesbians and gay men have constitutional protection in South Africa and enjoy the same rights as other South Africans, the community lives in a dual universe.
Cops chalked the most recent murders, during which Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Masooa were beaten and shot to death, to a robbery,but gay groups scoffed at the suggestion. Treatment Action Campaign swore: “This appears to have been a hate crime, committed by people who are intolerant of women and lesbians.” Perhaps their call to action – and Themm’s words – will force the ruling African National Congress to address this so-called “dual universe”.
South Africa’s gay failings were also evident during last week’s United Nation’s Economic and Social Council voted to accredit The Coalition gaie et lesbienne du QuÃ©bec and the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) as queer consultants. In those roles, the gay groups will help the international body write and enact gay-inclusive policy and edicts. Twenty-two countries affirmed their ascension, while thirteen denied their request. South Africa, meanwhile, chose to abstain from the vote – the second year the human rights bellwether neglected to lead as they should. Not surprisingly, Themm had some harsh words for their inaction:
It would be interesting to learn how the delegates who represented South Africa were selected and why it is they chose to abstain. Unfortunately their actions, particularly given the current situation in the country, could be read as a tacit endorsement of homoprejudice.
And not speaking out or showing clear leadership on these matters, has a terrible, terrible price.
The enraged activist then cheekily suggests RFSL and the Coalition visit South Africa to teach the government a lesson.
Don’t you just love a woman with balls?