OUT Well-Being, the Pretoria-based LGBT health and well-being group, has applied to intervene in the sentencing of three men found guilty of a brutal gay-bashing, following a trial spanning more than three years.

On 25 November the Germiston Magistrates’ Court handed down judgment in the matter of S v Madubaduba and 2 Others, following an assault on a young, black, gay man in a bar, in October 2007. In delivering judgment, the magistrate specifically noted that the accused were motivated by hatred and disrespect for gay people, which was particularly degrading for the victim.

On Monday, OUT, represented by Webber Wentzel Attorneys, announced that it has launched a groundbreaking application to be accepted as amicus curiae (or, ‘friend of the court’) in the case. This would allow it to present expert evidence ahead of the men’s sentencing.

OUT noted in a statement that the attack on the un-named man was “a typical hate crime as the gay man was targeted as a result of his sexual orientation. The accused punched and struck him with wooden chairs and hit him on the head with a metal spanner, and the attack was preceded and accompanied by homophobic speech”.

OUT said that its amicus application “aims to ensure that sentencing in homophobia-motivated crimes takes cognisance of the hate element in the commissioning of these crimes”.

It hopes to provide the court with information regarding:

• the nature of the crime as a hate crime;

• the psychological impact of hate crimes;

• the impact of such hate-based victimisation on the victim’s family and the victim’s group or community;

• and the impact of such hate-based victimisation on society and on marginalised groups that continue to face targeted discrimination.

“In order to actively counter the prevailing attitudes that deem it acceptable for LGBT people to be insulted, stigmatised and at times violently attacked because of their sexual orientation, it is critical that the courts and prosecuting authorities have a full understanding of the dynamics of, and context in which, homophobic crimes take place,” said OUT.

The matter will be heard on Friday, 9 December at the Germiston Magistrates’ Court. If OUT’s application is successful, this will be the first time a court in South Africa hears evidence from an amicus curiae relating to sentencing of homophobic hate crimes.

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