Thapelo Makutle was found in the early hours of 9 June 2012; his throat had been slit across. Unconfirmed reports indicate that his genitals had been severed and stuffed into his mouth. Thapelo’s murder is the latest in a number of violent attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex [LGBTI] persons in the Northern Cape Province. Earlier this year, a young lesbian was murdered in Magojaneng village; her body was also mutilated, her genitalia cut out and a bottle inserted into her body. Although South Africa’s constitution provides the right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, incidents of violence and attacks against LGBTI persons in the country continue to rise.
“The State has an obligation to protect the rights of all its citizens including LGBTI persons. This obligation goes beyond merely providing protection from discrimination in legal texts, the state has a duty to promote a culture of respect of human rights through public education and awareness campaigns, by taking decisive action against non-state actors and institutions that promote intolerance and discrimination, by promptly investigating and bringing to justice perpetrators of hate crime and human rights violations, and by proactively taking steps to protect the rights of minority groups, including sexual minorities” said Joel Nana, AMSHeR’s Executive Director.
According to Shaine Griqua, Director of LEGBO Northern Cape, “Hate crimes are increasingly common in the Northern Cape and the police are poorly trained to deal with incidents of violence against gays and lesbians. The police do not know what hate crimes are and this leads to cases being poorly investigated or not investigated at all.”
AMSHeR uses the occasion of the celebration of South Africa’s Youth Day [16 June] to draw attention to the plight of young South Africans who daily face violence and discrimination in their communities, at schools and places of employment on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. According to Kene C. Esom, AMSHeR’s Policy Coordinator: Law and Human Rights, “It is sad that today, Youth Day, which commemorates the series of youth-led protests against the oppressive apartheid government, a victim of a different kind of oppression, which is gaining ground in South Africa, is being laid to rest. The Government of South Africa must respect its obligations under the South African Constitution and other international human rights instruments by guaranteeing the rights of everyone within its territory to freedom from discrimination, including on the basis of sex, gender and sexual orientation.”
AMSHeR joins LEGBO and other organisations to call for an end to hate crime and violence against LGBTI persons, and to demand that Thapelo Makutle’s killers are brought to justice.
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