Sunday, May 8, 2011

South Africa Starts Anti-Hate Crime Task Force [Autostraddle]

South Africa’s Ministry of Justice has established a national task team to address hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans South Africans after 170,000 activists submitted a petition calling for action.

The government has been accused of not doing enough to help lesbians targeted for “corrective rape,” a hate crime in which men rape gay women to “correct” their sexual orientation or behaviour or punish them for preferring women. The new task team will begin operations on July 15, and will include six representatives from the gay community and six government representatives from the judiciary, police force, and department of social development. It will work towards changing current legislation, public awareness, and creating gay-friendly shelters. At a preliminary meeting earlier this week, a few of the options discussed included adding sexual orientation to a list of aggravating factors in sexual assault, which would make sentences heavier; using magistrate courts as equality courts; changing the minimum sentences for hate crimes and adding sexual orientation as a basis for hate crimes; and sensitivity training for police.


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