Cape Town - Following a recent increase in attacks against sexual minorities, members of the provincial legislature have urged their colleagues in Parliament to finalise and enact a pending bill to tackle hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ communities.
The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, which is aimed at reducing offensive speech and curbing hate crimes in South Africa, was introduced in 2016 but has yet to be enacted.
EFF provincial deputy chairperson Nosipho Makamba-Botya said it was time Parliament finalised and enacted the bill and that the police should create a hate crime category when reporting on crime statistics.
“Hate crime is a serious issue in this country which should be addressed and condemned. However, it is not enough to only address and condemn this evil crime as action is also required.”
DA provincial spokesperson on social development Gillion Bosman said it was necessary to ask whether political leaders were doing enough to set an example for their constituents.
“Our communities must embrace the values of tolerance and also act as the first layer of protection, as we are ultimately protecting our own.
“We need the right legislation, sensitisation of our police, and actual consequence management from the executive to take a zero-tolerance stance on discrimination of queer persons.
“We can’t consider crimes against queer persons in a silo. There is a major legislation gap, where hate crimes against queer minorities occur and it needs to be addressed.”
According to Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez, the victim empowerment programme, within the provincial department of social development, funds shelters to provide safe accommodation to victims of crime and violence.
Fernandez was responding to a question asked by Bosman about how many shelters there were across the Western Cape that support victims of anti-LGBTQIA+ hate crimes, and the level of support provided.
She said the department funded two dedicated beds for victims of the LGBTQIA+ community at the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children.
The Triangle Project, an NPO that focuses on services for the LGBTIQA+ community, also receives funding to facilitate sensitisation training of service providers, and that includes shelter staff.
However, ANC provincial social development spokesperson Gladys Bakubaku-Vos said that the victim empowerment programme was seen as being mainly for victims of GBV and domestic violence.
“The reality on the ground is that not too many victims of LGBTQIA+ hate crimes go to the government-sponsored shelters. It is high time that the government drove awareness campaigns for the LGBTQIA+ community so they can know about these benefits.