SA LGBTIQ+ Rights Watch: April 2023
OUT LGBT Well-being and MambaOnline publish a monthly overview of reported LGBTIQ+ rights violations in South Africa, including hate speech. We also look at the status of cases making their way through the criminal justice system. Here is our summary for April 2023.
South Africa’s Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) ruled that a radio advert by Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) is an example of “everyday homophobia” and is discriminatory. The commercial, which promotes the use of the carmaker’s genuine parts, attempts to create humour around the idea of two male colleagues being forced to huddle together for warmth after their car breaks down in the Karoo. Volkswagen denied that the ad was offensive or discriminatory, and was meant to be funny. The ARB, however, said that the advert was reminiscent of “locker-room humour”. The board asserted that the negativity around male-on-male affection depicted had “elements of both homophobia and toxic masculinity.” VWSA has been ordered to not air the commercial again.
The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) called for public feedback on the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, after it was passed by the National Assembly in March. The bill will have to be passed by the NCOP before it is sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for his signature. The NCOP Select Committee on Security and Justice has asked for the public and interested parties to submit their comments by no later than 13:00 on Friday, 12 May. The bill can be downloaded here (PDF). Written submissions must be sent to HateCrimesBill9Bemail@example.com.
Helen Zille, the Chairperson of the DA Federal Council, came under fire for a transphobic tweet in which she slammed Dylan Mulvaney, a controversial transgender American actress and social media personality. Zille’s harmful statement asserted that being gay or trans is not legitimate or authentic, but rather an attempt to be “woke” and be part of a supposed “tribe.” Zille also claimed that transgender individuals, by striving for their right to equality, are a threat to women’s rights and the progress they have made over the years. Zille remained defiant despite backlash from the LGBTIQ+ community. The DA refused to comment or condemn her tweet.
A KwaZulu-Natal holiday resort denied claims that it was discriminating against LGBTIQ+ people through one of its booking policies. The Mtwalumi Holiday Resort’s Responsible Behaviour rules state that “All same-sex groups are first to be approved by the rental committee before booking is accepted.” The term “same-sex groups” was seen by some to mean groups of same-sex queer people. The resort, however, said the rule had been misunderstood and simply referred to large all-men or all-women groups, such as bachelor parties. It insisted that the policy was “not in any way directed against the LGBTQIA+ community, who are welcome to stay in our resort subject to the rules as applicable to all guests.” The resort apologised for “the misconception” and promised to review the wording of the policy.
The family of Andile “Lulu” Ntuthela finally saw some measure of justice for his brutal murder. The Uitenhage Regional Court sentenced Luvuyo Jonas, the man who admitted to brutally killing the 41-year-old member of the LGBTIQ+ community in April 2021, to life in prison. Jonas had earlier pleaded guilty. It’s reported that Jonas strangled, stabbed, and beat Ntuthela before mutilating his body and setting it on fire. The murderer explained that he was motivated by his “religious beliefs.” In his sentencing, the judge added five years to the minimum sentence of 15 years due to aggravating factors in the crime, including that it impacted the broader LGBTIQ+ community.
South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs has been accused of being unnecessarily cruel towards a same-sex family. Francois Oosthuizen, a South African, his Chinese national husband, Bowen Li, and their four-year-old son have been forced apart because the department has dragged its feet for two years in approving Li’s permanent residence application. The couple cannot confirm if homophobia is behind the delay. They have, however, pointed out that Home Affairs had illegally denied them a birth certificate for their son, who was born via surrogacy, for a period. A petition has been set up to support the family’s efforts to be reunited.
A group of mental health professionals from across Africa met in Johannesburg to speak out against so-called “conversion therapy” practices that attempt to change people’s sexuality or gender identity. The landmark gathering was convened by the Psychological Society of South Africa Sexuality and Gender Division, in collaboration with Outright International, from 20 to 21 April. The attendees were mental health practitioners and lawyers from South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Cameroon. A key outcome of the meeting was the writing and signing of a historic declaration against conversion practices, asserting that conversion therapy practices are “human rights abuses, forms of gender-based violence and, in some instances, torture.”
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) found that a Johannesburg man’s homophobic religious rant was not hate speech. In October 2020, personal trainer Tiaan Van Graan took to Facebook to condemn members of the LGBTIQ+ community, calling them the work of the devil “to confuse people, and to twist God’s creation.” In a letter dated 24 April 2023, more than two and a half years later, the SAHRC found that Van Graan was entitled to express his vitriol. While acknowledging that the Facebook post was “potentially hurtful and offensive,” it concluded that it “does not constitute incitement to hatred or harm and is thus protected by the right to freedom of expression.” The decision was puzzling, coming weeks after the SAHRC successfully concluded a similar hate speech case against singer Steve Hofmeyr.
Have you experienced or witnessed an LGBTIQ+ rights violation such as a hate crime, hate speech or any other kind of LGBTIQ+ discrimination in South Africa?
If you’d like to bring it to the attention of the LGBTIQ+ community, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need free support and/or legal advice on your LGBTIQ+ rights, please email OUT at email@example.com.
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