Homophobia : experiences and perceptions of the LGBT community of police in the Durban Metropolitan Area.
Mahapa, Nteboheleng Justinus.
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While the South African criminal justice system has become increasingly aware of issues affecting women, matters pertaining to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community have largely been ignored. The homosexual panic, as well as the quasi-militaristic nature of discrimination among police and within law enforcement agencies in relation to LGBT issues, suggests an apparent omission in the law and sets an example of institutional homophobia, and this fosters antipathy towards the LGBT people in larger communities. With the employment of post-structural feminist theory, this research argues that police homophobia and homophobia in general, reinstates conservative hetero-patriarchal dominance and new forms of marginalization. Criminal law, disregard for human rights legislation and public opinion have been used by some police to reduce and suppress protection of the LGBT community within the Durban Metropolitan area. This dissertation aims to add to current debates on LGBT sexuality by interrogating violence motivated by homophobia and heterosexism as this is the most frequent, visible, violent and culturally legitimized form of hate crimes in Durban. It highlights the antagonism that the LGBT community faces at the hands of police when reporting these crimes. It aims to engage Foucault‟s theory of power in conjunction with other major theories such as Butler‟s theory of performativity, Queer theory, as well as Theron‟s criminalizing theory in order to unpack reasons why power dynamics come into play between police and the LGBT community. The study establishes how fundamentalist moralist Christian notions of sexuality perpetuate violent anti-LGBT rhetoric within law enforcement structures and other institutions in Durban. It seeks to add a new dimension regarding the interrogation of power structures by questioning law enforcement with the aim of demonstrating how homophobia dictates to the victim that they cannot negotiate different forms of sexuality. It sets out to explain how dominant heterosexual culture and religious discourses set boundaries on how the LGBT community in Durban should enjoy their bodies. This research analyzes the human cost of the fusion between culture and conservative religious discourses and how these posit a serious threat to LGBT subjects in negotiating gender fluidity within law enforcement spaces. The concluding chapter offers suggestions on how to strengthen the fragile relationship between the LGBT community and police officials.