The Democratic Alliance held a silent protest outside the Roodepan police station to show their condemnation on crimes against gays and lesbians. Picture: Danie Van der Lith

Kimberley -

The Northern Cape has become a “homophobic province” because it is run by a “homophobic government.”

This is according to the DA’s provincial leader, Andrew Louw, who spoke during a silent protest the party staged on Monday in Kimberley to express its condemnation of crimes against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual (LGBTI) community.

This followed an incident in Lerato Park at the weekend when a young homosexual man was allegedly raped by five men during what the community believed to be “corrective rape”.

The man was left in a burning room in a vacant house, after his alleged attackers set the mattress on which he was raped on fire. He managed to escape.

During the protest, DA supporters closed their mouths with tape in a symbolic gesture signifying the silence in the Province regarding violent attacks against LGBTI persons and also those whose voices were taken away by the incompetence of those responsible for apprehending these attackers.

Louw said that the actions of the alleged perpetrators were evil and added that is was unacceptable that they were ignoring the Bill of Rights by violating others’ rights to safety and human dignity.

He added that it was intolerable that people were victimised because of their sexual orientation.

Louw called for the “quiet diplomacy” by various MECs in the Province, and even President Jacob Zuma, to come to an end.

“The President and provincial leaders need to give an indication of their commitment in ensuring that all South Africans are able to live their lives free from fear of discrimination or violence. Unfortunately, President Zuma has in the past shown himself to be prejudiced against homosexuals.

“South Africa also chose to remain silent while lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights have been under attack in Nigeria, Uganda and other countries worldwide.

“This quiet diplomacy must be brought to an end and we must ensure that all human rights are maintained,” Louw said.

He added that the DA, which he said has been actively involved in campaigning for LGBTI rights, stood in solidarity with the LGBTI community by condemning the weekend’s incident and other homophobic attacks.

“We want to spell it out clearly to the people of the Province that there is no place for homophobes in the Northern Cape. We need to take this message home and spread it amongst our families, neighbours and friends. We cannot have our children growing up with the stigma that gays are evil or demonic. LGBTI persons are not inferior to others. They are normal human beings whose rights must be guaranteed, protected and respected.” Louw said.

He also called for the scope of the 16 days of Activism Campaign Against Women and Children to be broadened to include violence against the LGBTI community, because this too was a form of gender-based violence.

Tebogo Makwati, a representative from the Diamond Gay and Lesbian Organisation and Shaine Griqua from the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Organisation’s national task team, explained that the practice of corrective rape was something which they considered a hate crime.

“Corrective rape is a hate-crime where people are raped because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The perpetrator intends to turn the victim heterosexual or even punish or discipline him or her with the rape.

“Corrective rape is not recognised by the South African legal system as a hate crime despite the fact that the Constitution states that no person shall be discriminated against based on social status and identity, including sexual orientation.

Crimes based on sexual orientation are not expressly recognised in South Africa and corrective rape reports are not separated from general rape reports,” the men said.

Griqua added that his organisation was currently engaging with the Department of Justice to have corrective rape separately classified from general rape. - Diamond Fields Advertiser