South African LGBTs Mark Nelson Mandela’s Birthday With Protest Against Murders, Homophobia

Freedom lovers everywhere are celebrating Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday today, but thousands of LGBT South Africans are using the day to highlight continued discrimination and a rising wave of hate crimes.
Connecting to Mandela’s 67 years of public service, advocates held 67-minute protests throughout the nation and called upon the African National Congress to take a more affirmative stance against homophobia.

In May Chief Patekile Holomisa, chair of the Constitutional Review Committee, commented that “the ANC knows that the great majority of South Africans do not want to promote or protect the rights of gays and lesbians.” The ANC distanced itself from Holomisa’s remarks, but protestors are calling for his resignation.

As GayStarNews reminds us, there have been at least five viciously brutal murders of members of the LGBT community in just the last two months—including Neil Daniels, who was stabbed to death and set on fire, and Thapelo Makhutle, whose body was mutilated and his head almost completely severed.

A half-dozen other unconfirmed anti-gay killings in Johannesburg have some raising the possibility of a serial killer, something police have seem hesitant to investigate.

Queer activist Junior Mayema of Cape Town told GSN he had fallen prey to an attempted set-up just this past Friday.  A man invited him home, but a group of his accomplices tailed them, pulling out knives and shouting “moffie” (fag). ‘They almost managed to stab me, but I managed to get away with a cut on my head. They took my bag and my phone,” says Mayema. “It was so sad but I am still alive.”

Worse than the violence against LGBT people, say many, is the seeming indifference from authorities: ‘The violence in South Africa is rampant and not being investigated, LGBT people are being killed weekly without any police action,” says Mayema. “There are no attempts by the government to eradicate the violence and murders.”

The world stood up to South Africa’s apartheid system, leading to its end nearly 20 years ago. Now is the time for the world to stand up again.


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  • Oh well

    Crime and violence in South Africa is terrible, the police is useless, and everybody is suffering from this, not just gays. Don’t get me wrong, though, I am not minimizing the problems that gays can encounter if they live in or stumble into the wrong kind of neighborhood.

    However, as bad as all this is, it should be mentioned that South Africa has had gay marriage for several years now, and protection of gay rights is included in the constitution. Hopefully some day the U.S. can catch up to South Africa in these regards.

  • Steve-O

    The problem is that the constitutional statutes protecting gay people have done nothing to foster acceptance of gay people in South Africa. Many of South Africa’s patriarchical black cultures still see homosexuality as a rich white mans disease corrupting their youth. Even with the laws protecting gay people you would not go out openly holding your partners hand outside of traditionally ‘white’ upper class neighbourhoods in the major cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban.

  • Oh well

    @Steve-O: “Even with the laws protecting gay people you would not go out openly holding your partners hand outside of traditionally ‘white’ upper class neighbourhoods in the major cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban.”

    True. But for what it is worth, that is pretty much true of the U.S. as well.

    As for acceptance of gay people in South Africa, I think you are too pessimistic. I cannot speak of the black community, but in my lifetime the changes in acceptance of gay people among whites have been major, absolutely astonishing when compared to the way things were in, say, the 70s. I should perhaps also remind you that after the famous constitutional court decision, gay marriage was in fact strongly approved in a vote by the mostly black ANC over the objections of many conservative whites.

  • Inspiring Quotes

    There is still a lot to do to create true freedom and equality. Let Madiba’s story be a shining inspiration on how we can create a more tolerant society, not just between races, but also sexual orientations.

  • Mark


    Celebrating Mandela’s birthday is different than celebrating the ANC. The sad reality is political corruption is rampant worldwide. Good luck finding a country where politicians aren’t liars and thieves.

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