South Africa’s Fallen Lesbians – Victims of Homophobia –
In preparing my remarks for tomorrow’s IDAHOT commemoration in San Francisco – I decided to comb through all the articles I have written since 2009 about lesbians who had been victim to a most brutal hate crimes caused by homophobia: so called “corrective” or “curative” rape of lesbians, which most often includes their brutal murder. I was stunned when I realized just how many young lesbians I had written about – all raped and murdered in brutal heinous crimes. Homophobia – at its worst! At 6.00 pm tomorrow on IDAHOT I will read each of their names at Harvey Milk Square, in the Castro, under the huge iconic rainbow flag:
Duduzile (Dudu) Zozo
Gift Disebo Makau
Hendrietta (Andritha) Thapelo Morifi
South Africa, known as the rape capital of the world, where it is believed at least 1 in 4 women are raped, is notorious for this form of rape against lesbians. In 2011 an enormous international outcry ensued after the revelation of of a case we exposed here, the “Face of Corrective Rape”. The story and picture went viral and petitions were signed by millions of people. In March of that year, Ndumie Funda, a renowned South African activist whose partner died as a result of such a rape, and who has helped many survivors, and I delivered a million signatures to the South African Parliament, and we pitched the need for reforms and hate crimes legislation. A Task Team consisting of government departments and civil society partners was formed and several meetings held through the following years. The South African Government commenced an awareness campaign. All of this seems to have failed – especially as we hear of the latest victim, just last week.
Corrective rape is tantamount to a hate crime. However, due to homophobia and heteronormativity, hate crimes based on sexuality are often not recognized by authorities a such and specific legislation is needed in many countries. In many countries, especially those that criminalize homosexuality and where evangelicals preach that being gay is a choice, have atmospheres supportive of hate crimes against gay men and lesbians, reactions to hate crimes by the broader community, and responses by police and justice systems contribute to corrective rape.
Some people believe corrective rape can fix people who do not conform to gender norms or who are not heterosexual. Survivors often report being told that they were ‘being taught a lesson.’ Some perpetrators of the hate crime are impelled by a sense of misogyny and chauvinism.
Despite the scientific community evidencing that sexual orientation is the result of biology- many people do not believe that homosexuality (or other forms of non-heterosexuality) has a genetic basis and instead believe it is only the result of one’s environment or a choice. Because of this, some of these people believe sexual orientation can be changed, or in this case, fixed. This serves only to exacerbate the problem.
Please let us remember all who have fallen victim to homophobia and transphobia.
Please let us not forget our LGBTI brothers and sister on the continent of Africa, where over 30 countries criminalize homosexuality, instilling and supporting state sanctioned and institutionalized homophobia.
Let us not forget to speak out against the preachers and self styled experts, indeed purveyors of hate, who convey misconceptions, myth and lies about homosexuality, lighting the fires of homophobia, scapegoating our LGBTI communities and misusing religion, their tool:
In South Africa people like Gretha Wiid (read ) – and there are many more – are doing little to nothing to help women like the lesbians who have been brutalized – undoubtedly caused by the erroneous notions that fuel homophobia. People like this are the cause, fostering the homophobic environments – and not the solution. In fact they are stoking the fires as they convey the idea that homosexuality – being gay or lesbian – is a choice. This is untrue. It leads to hate crimes. In fact when these fires are stoked – with lies and myth – no matter how the messenger delivers the message – through religion or their erroneous assertions of fable and lies- we wonder at where such speech crosses the line from religious freedom to hate speech. Indeed its a fine line. In my opinion – the line is crossed when one has the audacity to suggest that people are able to change their sexuality, a flagrant lie. That is not a religious belief – that crosses into a scientific realm.
We cannot let this day pass without demanding that countries revoke the legislation that criminalizes the sexuality of humans and that preachers and influencers stick to the truth and keep from conveying false information – keeping their hands off the scientific realm- a venue not open to lying pronouncements by religious zealots.
We also Remember our friends:
Eric Ohena Lembembe.
There are many many others.
READ THE STORIES HERE
Contact: Melanie Nathan Commissionermnathan@gmail.com