Many times, one cannot comment on some of the things that happen in our beautiful world. One of the things the anti-gay agenda has reminded me is the fact that homophobia is not isolated.
You may just want to 'heal' us, or send us to prison, or make the law tougher, or take away our sense of pride and dignity. You may compare us to Nazis, blame us for the Rwanda genocide, and in the same breath swear vehemently that you do love us.
It is all the same thing. You hate us. As much as those men in South Africa who are putting us at risk. Who are raping, and killing, and defiling us.
You hate us. Same emotion. Same justification. Because we are gay.
Duh, the camoflage of religious, Christian, etc does hang thin and too transparent.
• Women living in fear of brutal assaults by male gangs
• Country's 'macho politics' lead to lack of action
Annie Kelly guardian.co.uk, Thursday 12 March 2009 17.49 GMT
The partially clothed body of Eudy Simelane, former star of
Her brutal murder took place last April, and since then a tide of violence against lesbians in
Now, a report by the international NGO ActionAid, backed by the South African Human Rights Commission, condemns the culture of impunity around these crimes, which it says are going unrecognised by the state and unpunished by the legal system.
The report calls for
The ferocity and brutality of Simelane's murder sent shockwaves through Kwa Thema, where she was much known and loved for bringing sports fame to the sprawling township.
Her mother, Mally Simelane, said she always feared for her daughter's safety but never imagined her life would be taken in such a way.
"I'm scared of these people that they are going to come and kill me too because I don't know what happened," she said. "Why did they do this horrible thing? Because of who she was? She was a sweet lady, she never fought with anyone, but why would they kill her like this? She was stabbed, 25 holes in her. The whole body, even under the feet."
The Guardian talked to lesbians in townships in
"Every day I am told that they are going to kill me, that they are going to rape me and after they rape me I'll become a girl," said Zakhe Sowello from
Research released last year by Triangle, a leading South African gay rights organisation, revealed that a staggering 86% of black lesbians from the
"What we're seeing is a spike in the numbers of women coming to us having been raped and who have been told throughout the attack that being a lesbian was to blame for what was happening to them," said Vanessa Ludwig, the chief executive at Triangle.
Support groups claim an increasingly aggressive and macho political environment is contributing to the inaction of the police over attacks on lesbians and is part of a growing cultural lethargy towards the high levels of gender-based violence in
"When asking why lesbian women are being targeted you have to look at why all women are being raped and murdered in such high numbers in South Africa," said Carrie Shelver, of women's rights group Powa, a South African NGO. "So you have to look at the increasingly macho culture, which seeks to oppress women and sees them as merely sexual beings. So when there is a lesbian woman she is an absolute affront to this kind of masculinity."
A statement released by
The failure of police to follow up eyewitness statements and continue their investigation into another brutal double rape and murder of lesbian couple Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Massooa in July 2007 has led to the formation of the 07-07-07 campaign, a coalition of human rights and equality groups calling for justice for women targeted in these attacks.
Sigasa and Massooa were tortured, gang raped and shot near their homes in Meadowland, Soweto in July 2007, shortly after being verbally abused outside a bar.
Human rights and equality campaigners are hoping that the public outrage and disgust at Simelane's death and the July trial of the three men accused of her rape and murder will help put an end to the spiralling violence increasingly faced by lesbians across
Despite more than 30 reported murders of lesbians in the last decade, Simelane's trial has produced the first conviction, when one man who pleaded guilty to her rape and murder was jailed last month.
On sentencing, the judge said that Simelane's sexual orientation had "no significance" in her killing. The trial of a further three men pleading not guilty to rape, burglary and murder will start in July.
Phumla talks of her experience of being taught a "classic lesson" by a group of men who abducted and raped her when she was returning from football training in 2003. She says that "practically every" lesbian in her community has suffered some form of violence in the past year and that it will take more than one trial to stop this happening.
"Every day you feel like its a time bomb waiting to go off," she said. "You don't have freedom of movement, you don't have space to do as you please. You are always scared and your life always feels restricted. As women and as lesbians we need to be very aware that it is a fact of life that we are always in danger."
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