High Rate of Harassment of Black Lesbians and Transgender Men in South Africa

A report published by Human Rights Watch, entitled “‘We’ll Show You You’re a Women’: Violence and Discrimination Against Black Lesbians and Transgender Men,” revealed a high rate of discrimination against black lesbians and transgender men in South Africa. The report includes data from over 120 interviews performed in six provinces of South Africa. Many of those interviewed indicated that they were reluctant to report cases of sexual or physical violence to the police for fear of harm or harassment.

Dipika Nath, a researcher on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights at Human Rights Watch, stated, “Legal rights are important and can be empowering, but they are meaningless in the face of the abuse, intimidation, and violence that people with unconventional gender and sexual expression face on a daily basis. The government’s job does not end with passing rights-protecting legislation but also lies in ensuring that the laws translate into substantive rights for everyone, including the most marginalized groups and individuals.”

The report recommended that the South African police document incidents of homophobic and transphobic violence; that the national prosecuting authority “ensure that all cases of sexual and physical violence against women and transgender people come to trial in a timely manner;” and that the Department of Education “establish monitoring systems to ensure effective implementation of non-discrimination policies, such as a toll free help line for students to report discrimination and verbal, physical, and sexual abuse by teachers and other school authorities.”

Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries with the exception of South Africa, which recognizes gay marriage, but even there, anti-gay practices such as “corrective rapes” of lesbians, are commonplace.


Human Rights Watch 12/5/11; "'We'll Show You You're a Women': Violence and Discrimination Against Black Lesbians and Transgender Men" 12/6/11

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