The programme addresses gender- and sexual orientation-based violence perpetrated against LGBTI people; a phenomenon that has become increasingly common in South Africa. Most recently, 26-year-old lesbian Duduzile Zozo was raped with a toilet brush and strangled to death in Thokoza, apparently because of her sexual orientation.
“We’re excited to launch a formal collaborative programme to address hate crimes. Very often responses to hate crimes are ad-hoc. We believe that a better approach is to embark on responses that are more structured and long-term,” commented Dawie Nel, Director of OUT.
“Our programme is broad and spans direct client assistance, community outreach and mainstreaming. What is particularly exciting is the work that we will do with the Department of Justice and to integrate these issues within an effective government programme,” he said.
Operating under the banner of “Love, Not Hate,” the hate crime programme consists of two primary elements: The management of hate crime cases and an awareness and communications campaign.
The programme is a collaboration between OUT and other LGBTI organisations across South Africa. These are the Lesbian and Gay Centre in Durban; FEW (Forum for the Empowerment of Women) and GALA (Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action) in Johannesburg; the Gay and Lesbian Network in Pietermaritzburg; and Triangle Project in Cape Town.
The groups adopted a standardised intake form for the reporting and assessment of hate crime cases, which each organisation will use to manage up to 30 cases per annum, per province. This process will include the reporting of the hate crime incident to the authorities, right through to successful conviction.
Assistance and support will be given to the victim/s of the hate crime/s and their loved ones in several aspects, including: reporting of the crime to the SAPS; legal support; medical support; and psycho-social support. The impact that hate crimes have on the victims’ communities will also receive attention.
Monthly posters will be distributed via each organisation’s distribution network to increase awareness of the programme and to provide valuable information to LGBTI communities on their options and rights when it comes to hate crimes. Regular updates will also be sent via an email and SMS campaign.
The organisations partnering in the project are also expected to foster working relations with at least two Thutuzela sexual offences care centres in their respective provinces, which will include activities such as training sessions for staff, providing assistance in using the reporting form and on-going monitoring.
The organisations are represented on national hate crimes structures; notably the Department of Justice Task Team to address violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the Hate Crimes Working Group.
The “Love, Not Hate” programme is funded by DiDiRi, the Sigrid Rausing Trust and the Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSFSA).
BACKGROUND: WHAT IS A HATE CRIME?
A hate crime is defined as “a criminal act committed against people, property, or an organisation, that is motivated in whole or part by prejudice, because of the group to which the victim belongs or identifies with”. Perpetrators seek to demean and dehumanise victims – considered different, based on actual or perceived gender or sexual orientation (this could also include race, ethnicity, age, disability, health status, nationality, social origin, religious convictions, culture, language, and/or other characteristics). The criminal act could be physical in nature, or verbal (i.e. hate speech), or any form of discrimination based on the above.
Internationally, a hate crime is considered a priority crime, not on the basis of prevalence, but rather the severity of the emotional and psychological impact beyond the individual victim, extending to the group to which they belong or are perceived to belong, and to the broader community or society at large.
Current attempts to address hate crimes in the South African context include the establishment of the Hate Crimes Working Group, the Integrated Victim Empowerment Policy Guidelines, the Proposed Hate Crimes Bill, and the establishment of the National Task Team on Sexual Orientation- and Gender-based Violence.
OUT LGBT Well-being
OUT started in 1994 and has been active in legal reform for lesbian, gay and bisexual equality in South Africa. This includes working on the legalisation of same-sex marriage (in 2005) and hate crimes. OUT provides health and psychosocial services to LGBT people, including a clinic and HIV prevention work, conducts research and trains mainstream services to adequately meet the needs of their LGBT clients. OUT is registered with the Department of Social Development as a non-profit organisation.