Exploring the perceptions of homosexuals on the role played by the South African Police Service on crimes experienced by gays and lesbians in Durban.
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This study focused on the perceptions of homosexuals and lesbians regarding the role of the police in investigating crimes that were committed against them in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. In particular, the study explored the experiences of gays and lesbians who had been victims of various type of crime due to their sexuality or sexual orientation. The objectives were, to explore which types of crimes were committed against gays and lesbians, to determine the reasons why homosexuals tend not to report crimes committed against them to the South African Police Service (SAPS), and to explore the perceptions of homosexuals on the efforts of the SAPS in dealing with crimes reported by gays and lesbians. To elicit data the study used a qualitative research method. A sample of 15 participants (7 gay men and 8 lesbian women) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban was purposively selected. The researcher employed in-depth interviews as the primary data collection method and the data were analysed by means of a thematic analysis process. This involved the identification of themes as they emerged from participants’ responses. The findings revealed strong tendencies among communities to victimise gays and lesbians due to their sexuality. Most respondents admitted that they chose not to report such crimes to the police due to reasons such as lack of trust in the police, the fear that the police would not take their cases seriously, shame, blaming themselves for the crimes, and the fear that their families would find out that they were homosexual. The findings also showed that gay and lesbian victims who reported crimes to the police felt that the police did not take their cases seriously, as they would be asked questions that were not helpful but showed a homophobic attitude on the side of the police. The study thus recommends that the police should obtain training in order to be able to understand and deal fairly and more professionally when crime is reported by gay and lesbian victims even if they are personally, culturally or religiously against homosexuality. Laws should be establish that deal specifically with crimes that are motivated by hate or dislike of a person based on their sexuality or sexual orientation in order to address these crimes in a humane and thorough manner and within legal parameters. Furthermore, communities should be educated about homosexuality in order for them to not see it as abnormal but as a manifestation of people’s right to diversity.