May 5, 2011
South Africa government announces homophobia task force
The South African government has announced the creation of a task force to tackle violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people. The development comes the wake of the latest brutal attack upon a gay woman.
Out lesbian Noxolo Nogwaza was viciously raped and then murdered on the morning of Easter Sunday. Human rights campaigners described the attack as a “hate crime”, committed because of Nogwaza’s sexuality.
The new task force was created in response to campaigns against “corrective rape”. Members of anti-rape group Luleki Sizwe met with government officials recently following the success of a massive international petition.
“The decision to set up a task team was taken on Tuesday during a meeting at Parliament of senior officials and activists,” said government spokesperson Tlali Tlali.
“It would include six representatives from the judiciary and the police and social development, and six representatives from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community. The team will be charged with developing a legislative intervention plan, a public awareness strategy, and LGBTI-sensitive shelters.”
LGBTI and human rights organisations welcomed the move, although some also sounded a note of caution. “It shows that they are willing to work with the gay community, but we continue to fight for LGBTI rights until the last drops of blood are spilled,” declared Ndumie Funda of Luleki Sizwe.
Many suggested that the government should have taken action long ago. Homophobia, transphobia and rape remain common in South Africa, in spite of progressive laws that outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and enable gay marriage.
“Incidents of violence against black lesbian women, and “corrective rape” in particular, continue to be reported with growing frequency,” said a representative of the Human Rights Watch on Monday.
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