South Africa may be the only African nation that allows same-sex marriage and recognises gay rights, but that doesn’t mean it is free from homophobia and hate. News that a young lesbian had been found murdered and sexually mutilated last week was greeted with horror and sadness by gay rights campaigners and commentators.
The twenty-six year old was killed in what appeared to be a homophobic attack and was found with a toilet brush inserted into her vagina, in the Thokoza area, just east of Johannesburg.
“The woman was last seen at a local shebeen and we are awaiting the results of a post-mortem to determine whether she had been raped,” Captain Godfrey Maditsi of the Thokoza police station told newspaper reporters. He also confirmed that as yet no arrests have been made and asked members of the public to come forward with any information that could assist the police with their inquires.
At least seven people, five of them lesbians, have been murdered in South Africa between June and November 2012 during what appears to have been targeted violence against them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Only a couple of weeks ago the global human rights charity, Amnesty International, warned that homophobic attacks had increased dramatically in the South Africa in recent years.
Many local campaigners fear this is the tip of the iceberg, as many lesbian and gay people are deeply frightened about reporting instances of homophobic attacks or abuse. Party because of the fear of reprisals from those responsible in the first place, but a lack of trust that the Police will either believe them or do anything over such attacks.