As the world continues to celebrate the “Pride Month”, a month dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and their struggle against discrimination and social ostracism, a 27-year-old lesbian was attacked by a group of men in Strand on Saturday night while walking home.
The woman, who asked not to be named as she fears for her life, said the attack was due to her se_xuality.
“If it was a robbery, they would have taken my belongings but they only assaulted me and kept on saying I must stop what I am doing. I thought they would rap_e me during the attack but luckily they did not.”
Bruised and distressed after the attack, the woman could not even tell her family what she went through.
“My family does not know that I am a lesbian, I have tried coming out but it is difficult when you do not know if you will be accepted or judged. I hide myself, only my close friends know my se_xuality.”
She said she could not identify her attackers and decided not to open a case as it would be a “futile” exercise.
“These people know me, it is obvious. They might come back to kill me. Many of us have died at the hands of men who wanted to ’correct’ us.”
Three years ago, lesbian Noxolo Xakeka was stabbed to death on New Year’s day in Strand. The 23-year-old mother was harassed, called names and assaulted before being stabbed to death by Bongile Joni who pleaded guilty to the killing.
Her family claimed the attack was because of her sexual orientation.
“The celebration of Pride Month is useless if we are still being attacked. No one can say they do not know about us, we are on social media, television everywhere yet people are still homophobic. I have friends who have attempted to commit suicide because they are not accepted by their communities. We are not bothering anyone, why are we still under attack?”
Lonwabo Jack, 24, from Nyanga and another 24-year-old from Khayelitsha were both murdered last month. They were both openly gay and it is suspected that their murders were due to their sexual orientation.
Sharon Cox from Triangle Project, a non-profit human rights organisation offering professional services to ensure the full realisation of constitutional and human rights for LGBTQ+ persons, their partners and families said the fear of coming out is another reason that people do not want to lay charges as they fear that it will be made public that the reason for the attack was based on their orientation or identity.
“Coming out is an extremely difficult process for so many as the fear of rejection is great and it is real. It is a sad reality that even though we are in 2021, with a progressive Constitution, paper rights and lived realities are worlds apart. People’s attitudes need to change and that, unfortunately, has not happened.” She added that people still cling to deeply-held beliefs, often grounded in faith which are highly intolerant and often hateful.
“This is both sad and maddening as many LGBTIQ+ people are people of faith too but have to listen to and personally such utter intolerance and hatefulness. Whether a parent, a police officer, a nurse, a person who works at the Department of Home Affairs, a teacher – nobody leaves their prejudice and their beliefs at the door. People take it in with them. These then translate to attitudes and the way in which LGBTIQ+ people are treated or not treated in some cases.”
– Weekend Argus