South Africa LGBTIQ+ Rights Watch: December 2023

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MambaOnline and OUT LGBT Well-being publish a monthly overview of reported LGBTIQ+ rights violations in South Africa, including hate speech. We also look at the status of cases making their way through the criminal justice system. Here is our summary for December 2023.

Grindr Gang Attacks in Durban

It was revealed that the criminal syndicate known as the Grindr Gang has also been active in Durban, and was reportedly responsible for robbing and assaulting 13 men, leading to the death of one victim. Four suspects, facing charges of murder, robbery, and kidnapping, appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court in December. The victims were allegedly lured to guest houses under false pretences, where they were attacked and robbed. One victim, Kuben Kevin Archary, was found strangled to death in a guest house. Concerns for witness safety led to the denial of bail for the one suspect who had applied to be released. The case sheds light on the ongoing vulnerability of queer individuals seeking connections through dating apps across South Africa.

Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill Passed by Parliament

South Africa’s Parliament approved the amended version of the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill on 5 December, 2023. While predominantly receiving support from MPs from the ANC, EFF, and IFP, opposition came from the DA, FF+, and the ACDP. Notable changes to the bill include a reduction in the maximum prison sentence from eight to five years. The bill recognises offences motivated by prejudice or intolerance, and also criminalises hate speech with defined exceptions for artistic, academic, journalistic, and religious expressions. Critics, primarily the DA and ACDP, argue the legislation infringes on freedom of speech and religion.

President Ramaphosa Was Urged to Sign Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill

LGBTIQ+ advocacy groups called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to expedite the enactment of South Africa’s Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill. OUT LGBT Well-being praised Parliament’s passage of the bill, asserting the importance of holding perpetrators of hate accountable. The Hate Crimes Working Group, advocating for a hate crimes law since 2009, expressed appreciation to legislators, and the Embrace Diversity Movement hailed the bill’s passage as a triumph for LGBTIQ+ advocacy. While the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of South Africa celebrated the bill’s passage, they noted ongoing challenges, emphasising that more works needs to be done to eliminate stigmatisation and discrimination. All groups united in urging President Ramaphosa to sign the bill into law promptly, highlighting the urgency in combating hateful incitement and violent bigotry.

Incident of Workplace Discrimination

Workplace discrimination continues to be a concern, with several incidents reported to OUT LGBT Well-being in 2023. In December, the organisation received another complaint from a member of the LGBTIQ+ community whose boss called him an anti-gay slur in the office environment. The individual, who asked not to be named, requested legal assistance, explaining that they did not have the financial resources to take their superior to court. OUT has referred the case to Access Chapter 2’s legal clinic but the victim, should they wish, can also lodge a complaint directly in the Equality Court without needing legal representation.

Gauteng Teen in “Corrective Rape” Attack

A 15-year-old lesbian girl fell victim to a so-called “corrective rape” hate crime near Vanderbijlpark in the Vaal area. The attack occurred in the early hours of November 4, 2023 in Muvhango, although reports only reached MambaOnline in December. Activists indicated that the assailant’s motivations were rooted in prejudice, with the accused allegedly expressing the intention “to stop her from being lesbian.” Despite the traumatic experience, the teenager managed to complete her school exams before the end of the term. Concerns were raised about the “interrogation” of the victim by a police officer immediately after the incident, leaving her fearful and reluctant to pursue the case. The suspect, identified as a man in his late 20s, remained at large at the time of writing.

Johannesburg Grindr Gang Case Continued to be Monitored

LGBTIQ+ rights group Access Chapter 2 attended another hearing at the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on 14 December in the case of seven men accused of the kidnapping and torture of a student. Activists sought to show support for the victim and his family and to monitor the court process. The case was remanded to 6 January 2024, to allow the legal representatives to review new information that had come to light. The men, who remain in custody, are accused of luring the 18-year-old victim into a fake date through Grindr in September 2023. They held him against his will, subjected him to severe physical beatings, and demanded a ransom of R30,000 from his family. They were arrested after one of the alleged perpetrators was caught by police attempting to withdraw ransom funds from an ATM.

  • Have you experienced or witnessed an LGBTIQ+ rights violation such as a hate crime, hate speech or any other kind of LGBTIQ+ discrimination in South Africa? If you’d like to bring it to the attention of the LGBTIQ+ community, email info@mambaonline.com
  • If you need free support to uphold your LGBTIQ+ rights, please email OUT at report@out.org.za.
  • Did you know you can lodge a complaint of unfair discrimination or hate speech (at no cost and without a lawyer), in the Equality Courts, which are located across South Africa? For more information, read OUT’s guide to using the Equality Courts.
  • Access LGBTQI+ health, legal and other support services, and get information about your rights, gender and sexuality by dialing *120*72524# on any cellphone. *60c a minute.

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