South Africa: LGBT Community Mark Nelson Mandela’s Birthday With Protest Against Murders, Homophobia
Freedom lovers everywhere are celebrating Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday today, but thousands of LGBT South Africans are using the day to highlight continued discrimination and a rising wave of hate crimes.Connecting to Mandela’s 67 years of public service, advocates held 67-minute protests throughout the nation and called upon the African National Congress to take a more affirmative stance against homophobia.
In May Chief Patekile Holomisa, chair of the Constitutional Review Committee, commented that “the ANC knows that the great majority of South Africans do not want to promote or protect the rights of gays and lesbians.” The ANC distanced itself from Holomisa’s remarks, but protestors are calling for his resignation.
As GayStarNews reminds us, there have been at least five viciously brutal murders of members of the LGBT community in just the last two months—including Neil Daniels, who was stabbed to death and set on fire, and Thapelo Makhutle, whose body was mutilated and his head almost completely severed.
A half-dozen other unconfirmed anti-gay killings in Johannesburg have some raising the possibility of a serial killer, something police have seem hesitant to investigate.
Queer activist Junior Mayema of Cape Town told GSN he had fallen prey to an attempted set-up just this past Friday. A man invited him home, but a group of his accomplices tailed them, pulling out knives and shouting “moffie” (fag). ‘They almost managed to stab me, but I managed to get away with a cut on my head. They took my bag and my phone,” says Mayema. “It was so sad but I am still alive.”
Worse than the violence against LGBT people, say many, is the seeming indifference from authorities: ‘The violence in South Africa is rampant and not being investigated, LGBT people are being killed weekly without any police action,” says Mayema. “There are no attempts by the government to eradicate the violence and murders.”
The world stood up to South Africa’s apartheid system, leading to its end nearly 20 years ago. Now is the time for the world to stand up again.