South Africans Rally Against 'Corrective Rape' of Lesbians

Activists demand that the practice be labeled a hate crime. 

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Activists protest in Cape Town. (Care.org)

South African activists are speaking out against rapes targeting lesbians in South Africa. A small number -- about 25 -- demonstrated outside Parliament yesterday while the leaders of the group Lukleki Sizwe ("guide a nation") met with government representatives and collected more than 1,700 signatures. Their petition urged the justice minister to address "corrective rape," the increasingly common crime in which men rape lesbian women to "turn" them straight or "cure" them of their sexual orientation.

The Associated Press reports:

Activists are pushing the ministry to set up a commission to research, develop and implement a national plan to address sexual violence, violence that targets lesbians and gays and hate crimes.

"We want the government to label corrective rape ... as a hate crime," said Eugene Brockman, one of the demonstrators at parliament.

Same-sex marriage is legal in South Africa and the country has among the most liberal laws on sexual orientation on a continent where many others ban gay sex. But the rapes in South Africa are a brutal sign that cultural attitudes remain deeply conservative.

So although labeling "corrective rape" a hate crime sounds like a no-brainer, it will be just one part of a multifaceted battle to make South Africa safe for people of all sexual orientations. In some cases, long-standing prejudice and intolerance are even more difficult to change than laws.

Read more from the Associated Press.

Read Clay Cane's take here on The Root on Jamaica's violent homophobia.

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