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Hate crimes perpetrated against lesbian women and their personal experiences of violence in family and community settings.

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The South African Constitution, which has been praised globally for being the most progressive, promised equal rights and protection to every citizen regardless of their sexual orientation. However, it seems the Constitution has failed to fulfil its promise to protect and defend lesbian persons against violence. The current debates about hate crimes against lesbians as part of the widespread of abuse against women in South Africa demonstrate a perfect example of how the South African government has failed to protect lesbian persons. Hate crimes against anyone including lesbian persons are a form of human rights violations. These violations are highlighted together other difficulties that lesbians face. This research argues that South Africa together with other African States has failed to protect lesbian persons from hate crimes. This was demonstrated by engaging the Responsibility to Protect Theory, the Duty of the State to Protect, and the meaning of the South African Constitution. This study also discusses how the structure of the African societies is guided by the concepts of Christianity and religion which perpetuate violence against lesbians, where homosexuality is perceived as “immoral” and “Un-African”. This research details and contextualizes violence and types of hate crimes against lesbians and documents types of hate crimes, including degrading treatment and punishment by the State as well as discrimination, harassment and violence at the hands of families, churches, strangers, co-workers, community members, and so on. The study had two focus areas. The first area gathered statistics from the UKZN Pietermaritzburg LGBTI Forum, the Pietermaritzburg Gay and Lesbian Network, and the Ubumbano LGBTI group. It focused on experiences of violence. 69 lesbians participated, and 96% had experienced violence. In addition, other statistical data and facts of hate crimes against lesbian persons in other countries have been taken from different sources, including books and online journals. The second focus area was conducted at UKZN using a convenience sample which focused on attitudes towards lesbian persons. The results indicated that 80% of heterosexual students who were interviewed had positive attitudes towards lesbian persons. The study also looked at the State’s legal obligation to protect lesbian persons and prevent violence of any kind against sexual minorities using the Social Identity Theory and Responsibility to Protect Theory as theoretical and conceptual frameworks. Lastly, the study provides recommendations for implementing this.


Master of Social Sciences in International Relations. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2019.