South Africa LGBTIQ+ Rights Watch: January 2024


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 January 2024.

Alarming Findings in isiZulu LGBTIQ+ Online Search Study

The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism released the results of a study examining online search results for isiZulu LGBTIQ+ terms, revealing a concerning prevalence of disinformation and harmful content, particularly surrounding conversion therapy. isiZulu LGBTIQ+ search results often included links to religious content condemning homosexuality as immoral, sinful and ungodly as well as articles asserting that homosexuality is un-African and imposed by Western countries onto the continent. The study highlighted the urgent need for tech and social media companies to address these issues, elevate authoritative resources in non-English languages, and combat harmful narratives surrounding conversion therapy, which has been widely discredited by mental health and human rights groups.

Jacob Zuma Vows to Reverse Same-Sex Marriage Rights in South Africa

Disgraced former President Jacob Zuma sparked concern within the LGBTIQ+ community by reportedly leading a campaign to undermine same-sex marriage rights in South Africa. In remarks made during a campaign rally in Pietermaritzburg for his uMkhonto weSizwe party, which is set to participate in this year’s elections, he expressed sympathy towards traditional leaders’ concerns about same-sex marriage legislation. Zuma said that should the party come to power it would change laws like marriage equality which he believes are not supported by most South Africans. Zuma’s history of opposition to marriage equality dates back to 2006. OUT LGBT Well-being called on political parties, including uMkhonto weSizwe, to refrain from exploiting and targeting vulnerable minorities, such as the LGBTIQ+ community, for cheap political gain in the upcoming elections.

TikTok Preacher Spreads Dangerous Anti-LGBTIQ+ Hate Speech

A TikTok preacher named Bonolo was accused of spreading dangerous anti-LGBTIQ+ hate speech, alleging that the LGBTIQ+ community endorses paedophilia and claiming that it has been legalised within the community. In a live-streamed video, she associated LGBTIQ+ individuals with child predators, claiming that “in the world of the LGBT there is no age limit.” While her formal affiliation with a church remains unclear, her disturbing rhetoric reflects a broader trend of misinformation and hate speech targeting the LGBTIQ+ community on social media platforms. Siya Hlongwa, a member of the Christian community, expressed deep concern over the misinterpretation of religious teachings to spread hatred and misinformation, calling for unity and vigilance against false information. Despite efforts to reach out to Bonolo for comment, there was no response.

LGBTIQ+ Group’s Buses Vandalised in Pretoria

Access Chapter 2 (AC2), an LGBTIQ+ group in Pretoria, faced setbacks in its outreach services after vandals damaged its buses during the festive season, temporarily halting vital health services for the queer community in Gauteng. The criminals broke into the buses, damaging storage compartments and stealing crucial equipment, including HIV testing tents and equipment. The buses, donated by the Human Science Research Council, serve as mobile clinics for off-site health services. AC2 spokesperson Mpho Buntse condemned the attack, viewing it as an assault on the organisation’s life-saving interventions and services. AC2 urged anyone with information on the incident to come forward after a case was opened with the Pretoria Police Station.

Transgender Eastern Cape High School Student Faced Expulsion

OUT LGBT Well-being was contacted by a transgender student in the Eastern Cape who faced discrimination based on their gender identity from school authorities. Despite expressing their identity and desires to the principal in a letter, the student says she was met with resistance. She was called out during a school assembly and subsequently reprimanded by the principal for wearing clothing not conforming to their assigned gender at birth. The principal even requested medical records related to the student’s transition, which the student did not possess. Threats of expulsion were made if the student did not adhere to the school’s dress code. This discrimination affected the student’s academic performance, although they managed to pass the grade. Feeling compelled to assert their identity, and fearing further repercussions, the student sought support to address the discrimination. A subsequent meeting between the school and their guardian saw a tentative agreement being reached and OUT was requested to hold off on any action for the time being.

Two LGBTIQ+ Individuals Faced Workplace Discrimination

January saw OUT receiving two further complaints of workplace discrimination, a concerning trend over the past few months. In one case, the employee claimed that they were fired after they were discriminated against multiple times at work based on their sexuality and health status. The victim has photographic evidence, voice recordings and WhatsApp messages to support their allegations. In another incident, an employee claimed they were discriminated against by a colleague in their workplace based on their sexuality. They were subsequently victimised, bullied and forced to reign due to the impact of the abuse on their mental health (constructive dismissal). Both cases have been referred to the Access Chapter 2 Legal Clinic for support.


  • 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
  • If you need free support to uphold your LGBTIQ+ rights, please email OUT at
  • 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.

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