The Young Terrace community in Norfolk, Virginia is in devastation after a mass shooting on November 3 left three women dead, two injured, and several children traumatized from witnessing the murders first-hand — some seeing their own mothers gunned down in broad daylight — right outside their home.
Police report that Detra R. “Dee” Brown, 42, and Nicole Lovewine, 45, who were partners, came home as Lovewine’s pregnant, 19 year-old daughter, got into an argument with her boyfriend. He pulled out a gun and shot her at approximately 6:00 pm. When Brown and Lovewine came out to help, the shooter turned the gun to them and reportedly fired at both “point-blank” in the head.
Another women who was outside with her three children, Sa’idah E. Costine, 44, then ran to try and help them. The assailant shot her as well, leaving her dead. Another women was shot and wounded before the rampage came to an end.
Police have arrested Ziontay Palmer, 19, and charged him with the entire shooting after apprehending him hours after. He was dating Lovewine’s daughter, who is five months pregnant, and authorities believe a domestic dispute set off the violence, according to the Virginian-Pilot.
Palmer is facing three second-degree murder charges, two malicious wounding charges, and multiple firearm charges. He is being held in Norfolk General District Court without bond.
Lovewine’s sister, Tina McPherson, told the Virginian-Pilot, “That man… put a stain on this family that can never be washed — he hurt us to the core.”
A neighbor and witness told local reporter Andy Fox that there was “nothing they could do” for Brown and Lovewine. “They were shot execution-style. They had just come home from work,” the witness said.
THE family of a lesbian woman who was shot and killed believe her death was mostly influenced by her sexuality. Limakatso Puling, 29, was shot and killed in Avoca Hills on Tuesday night.
It is alleged Puling and a friend were walking home when they were approached by armed men who demanded their cellphones. It is believed that Puling refused to hand over her cellphone leading to one of the men shooting her in the head.
Thembeka Ngcengula, Puling’s girlfriend, said it would take her a very long time to come to terms with her loss. Not only had she lost a partner but a parent to her disabled daughter, Olwethu, she said.
Lineo Puling, Limakatso’s aunt, said the family were heartbroken. They were expecting to see her in the December holidays. She said Puling had called home a weekend before her death and told them to make arrangements for a family get-together.
“I don’t even know where to begin explaining the hurt our family, especially her grandmother, is going through. We haven’t seen her since 2018. Receiving her phone calls telling us she was coming home brought so much joy. Unfortunately, it was short-lived.”
Lineo said they were saddened that their daughter was robbed of her chance at life because of her sexuality.
“We contacted her friend who she was with when they were attacked. She told us that when Limakatso refused (to give) her phone, those men kept calling her names regarding her sexuality. The killers must be gloating that they killed a lesbian. Was she not a human being? She was a lesbian woman and didn’t deserve to be killed. I hope justice will be served one day.”
Former South Africa striker Portia Modise doesn’t care if the football community loves her. She doesn’t care if you like her outspoken manner, or the way she dresses, or that she loves women.
She’s the only African footballer to score 100 international goals, and represented her country for 15 years from the age of 16. But if you don’t want to give her respect for that, or her countless achievements on the field, she’s not too fussed about that either.
One of the first openly gay [sic] players in the global game, Modise says she only cares about furthering women’s football in South Africa, protecting female players from harassment, and being a voice for the LGBTQ+ community in her country.
Today, 21 years after her debut in 2000, the out footballers in Africa can be counted on one hand, but interestingly include her captaincy successor for Banyana Banyana, Janine van Wyk.
Despite hard-earned legal freedoms and constitutional rights won since apartheid [same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since 2006], much of the LGBTQ+ community in South Africa lives in perpetual fear of violence.
Murder and ‘corrective rape’, during which women are violated to ‘fix’ their queerness [sic], are still an epidemic for Black women in particular. There have been over 20 recorded LGBTQ+ hate crime murders locally since February 2021.
For Modise, the especially brutal rape and murder of national teammate and fellow activist Eudy Simelane in 2008, who was stabbed 25 times, further spurred her on in her fight for fair treatment, and was a factor in her exit from the team for four years.
In 1925, Eve Adams, a Polish-Jewish émigré who had spent the past four years travelling across the United States selling leftist radical literature, opened a tearoom in Greenwich Village. Eve’s Hangout, as it was sometimes known, was situated in the basement of 129 MacDougal Street. The small, sparingly lit cellar quickly became a destination among the city’s bohemian contingents—artists, poets, activists, gay men, and lesbians. According to the Daily News, it was rumored that “men kept to one room, the women in another.” The Quill, a downtown periodical, summed it up, mockingly, as a place “where ladies prefer each other.”
One evening in June, 1926, a woman named Margaret Leonard walked into Eve’s Hangout wearing a tweed suit and carrying a briefcase. Adams took to Leonard, and, the next day, they met at Adams’s apartment and rode a taxi to Times Square to see a play. Later, Leonard would report that, in the car, Adams kissed her “profusely,” slid her hand under Leonard’s coat, and touched Leonard’s breasts. At dinner, they waltzed. That night, Adams told Leonard that she wanted to give her a copy of the book she had published the previous year, called “Lesbian Love,” a collection of biographical snapshots of lesbians Adams had known. They returned to her apartment, where Adams gave Leonard a copy and autographed it.
A few days after their outing, Leonard returned to Eve’s Hangout and revealed herself to be an undercover policewoman. Together with four other officers, she arrested Adams for “disorderly conduct”—a broad charge that referred, in this case, to Adams’s alleged sexual advances—and for having written an “obscene” book. After trials for each charge, Adams was sentenced to a year and a half in jail. When she completed her sentence, immigration authorities began deportation proceedings against her. (Although she had begun applying for naturalization in 1923, Adams was not yet an American citizen.) During the hearings, she pleaded to be allowed to stay, but, in 1927, she was sent back to Poland. Her days there were hard. In a letter to a friend, she described her “everyday worry” being “for a piece of bread.” “I cannot steal and I am a stranger-Jew here,” she wrote. She sustained herself on a Ten Cent Classics edition of Tennyson’s poetry, and she eventually managed to move to Paris. Adams’s passport listed her profession as “writer—woman of letters,” but, to support herself, she sold novels to American tourists on the street. After the Nazis occupied France, she tirelessly worked to find a way out of the country, but in late 1943 she was captured and sent to Auschwitz, where she was murdered.
“Lesbian Love,” though long since largely forgotten, might be the first ethnography of lesbians in America. Structured as a series of vignettes, the book—which Adams described as a “scientific literary contribution”—captures scores of women who flirted, courted, or were in love with one another, and some who played with the presentations of their gender. In the opening chapter, “Glimpses,” Adams writes of “a little rendezvous tearoom, late after dinner hour, where six or seven girls had gathered. One lone man sat silent in a corner. Whispers and love sonatas could be heard among the group of girls—occasionally laughter.” The group included women called Ann, Sara (who seemed to be Ann’s lover), and “May, the proprietress, known as Jim.”
Lesbian activist, Sisanda Gumede, 28 was the latest victim of homophobic murder in South Africa when she was stabbed at the weekend.
It is alleged that a 28-year-old lesbian activist, Sisanda Gumede, was stabbed on Sunday afternoon and was rushed to hospital bleeding profusely. She died en route to hospital.
“Although the information regarding the incident violently [sic] is still sketchy, it appears that the deceased and (the suspect) had an altercation while at home. Gumede’s murder is understood to be motivated by homophobia, as (the suspect) allegedly gloated after the incident that he had removed the curse from the family,” the Department of Social Development said in a statement released on Tuesday.
Two men have been arrested and charged in connection to the killing of out lesbian journalist Lyra McKee, who was shot to death while covering a riot in Northern Ireland two years ago.
“These arrests are the culmination of a detailed two-year investigation into Lyra’s murder and the events which preceded it,” Police Service of Northern Ireland Detective Superintendant Jason Murphy said in a written statement. “The local community have supported the Police Service of Northern Ireland throughout the course of this protracted investigation, and I wish to thank them for their continued support.”
Police in Utah have launched a homicide investigation in the deaths of a married female couple shot to death Wednesday at a campsite in Grand County.
The victims were Crystal Michelle Turner, 38, and Kylen Carrol Schulte, 24, who had lived in Moab, Utah, Salt Lake City TV station KSL reports.
The women were last seen at a tavern in Moab Saturday night, and they had called friends that night saying they were worried about “a weirdo camping near them that was freaking them out,” according to social media posts. They were planning to move to a different campsite.
On 1 August 2021 Listening2Lesbians provided submissions in response to the following from the Commission on the Status of Women:
“Any individual, non-governmental organization, group or network may submit communications (complaints/appeals/petitions) to the Commission on the Status of Women containing information relating to alleged violations of human rights that affect the status of women in any country in the world. The Commission on the Status of Women considers such communications as part of its annual programme of work in order to identify emerging trends and patterns of injustice and discriminatory practices against women for purposes of policy formulation and development of strategies for the promotion of gender equality.”
Information was provided to the UN on incidents dating back approximately 2.5 years across the 57 countries we have reported on in that time.
Legal, social and familial punishment of lesbians for failing to conform with the expectations imposed on women illuminates the status of women around the world. Homosexuality is understood to be a breach of sex-based expectations. Strictly enforced sex roles are accompanied by increased consequences for those who break them, individually or collectively. Lesbians, or women read as lesbians, are doubly punishable for their non-conformity, both overt and inferred.
Listening2Lesbians is not an expert on these countries and provided this information to augment and support the information provided by women from individual communities. We can only provide information on cases we have been able to locate and based our submissions solely around the available facts. Please note that we welcome corrections and updates.
We are painfully aware of the many communities not represented.
Anyone with information on missing communities is invited to contact us with information on reporting violence and discrimination against lesbians in their community.
Family, friends and members of the LGBTIQ+ community in Limpopo have been left reeling by the brutal rape and murder of a young lesbian community health worker, in what is suspected to be a hate crime.
A young lesbian community health worker was raped, stabbed multiple times and dumped alongside the road next to Helen Franz Hospital in the rural Senwabarwana area of Limpopo last week.
Thapelo Constance Sehata (23), of Desmond Park in Senwabarwana, was found on Wednesday (28 July 2021) unconscious and bleeding from severe stab wounds, just a short distance from the hospital.
She later succumbed to her injuries, following what her family and fellow members of the LGBTIQ+ community described as a hate crime motivated by her sexual identity. Police have confirmed the incident.
Sehata was a mother of a nine-year-old girl and worked as peer educator at the non-governmental organisation (NPO) Centre for Positive Care (CPC).
Her distraught older sister, Pretty Sehata (31), told Health-e News this week that the whole family, including their 63-year-old mother, was hurt beyond words.
“Thapelo was open about being lesbian and we accepted and loved her as our own in the family. Of course, there were some residents who would mock, insult and ridicule her for what she was. And here we are in pain today, mourning her brutal killing. She was raped, killed and dumped along the road as if she was not human,” said Pretty.
This past Wednesday at 1 a.m. in Piedmont Park the bodies of Katherine Janness, 40, and her dog Bowie were found. Janness had been stabbed multiple times, her face disfigured in the attack.
“She was the most intelligent, kind, humble, and beautiful person I have ever known. I wanted to spend every second with her,” her fiancee Emma Clark wrote on Facebook.
“Today I lost the love of my life and my baby boy. It was tragic.”
Janness – a bartender at the Campagnolo Restaurant and Bar in Atlanta – and Clark had dinner together on Tuesday evening and then Janness took Bowie for a walk. When she didn’t come home, Clark found her body by using an app to track her phone’s location in the park about a mile from their home.
Police searched the park for evidence and went door-to-door in the neighborhood to find witnesses. They returned to the park with diving gear to search a lake.
The last known picture of Janness shows her crossing a nearby rainbow crosswalk. Atlanta police released the image and are offering a $10,000 reward for information on the killing.
Unknown people threw paint over the walls of the bar, with the sole intention of erasing murals showing the faces of victims of lesbophobic murder.
The LGBTIQ Chueca Bar, located in Rancagua 406, Providencia commune, suffered a lesbophobic attack at dawn on Thursday [22 July], an attack which was denouced by the Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement (Movilh).
The owners of the building said that “in a clearly premeditated and calculated act”, three people, as yet unidentified, painted the walls of the building white to erase murals with the faces of Nicole Saavedra and Ana Cook, both murdered in lesbophobic attacks, “as well as the mural that showed a woman of African descent, a non-binary person and a drag king”.
“These acts make us feel more and more unsafe. Chueca is a space created for lesbians, a safe place for dissent and where solely women work. Clearly, this is intimidation.” (Translated)
Desconocidos lanzaron pintura sobre la fachada del lugar, con el único ánimo de borrar pinturas con rostros de víctimas fatales de la lesbofobia.
Un ataque lesbofóbico sufrió la madrugada del jueves el bar LGBTIQ+ Chueca Bar, ubicado en Rancagua 406, comuna de Providencia, hecho que fue repudiado hoy por el Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (Movilh).
Las dueñas del recinto precisaron que “en un acto claramente premeditado y calculado”, tres sujetos, aún sin identificar, pintaron de blanco la fachada del recinto con el fin de borrar pinturas con los rostros de Nicole Saavedra y Ana Cook, ambas víctimas fatales de la lesbofobia, “al igual que el mural que mostraba una mujer afrodescendiente, una persona no binaria y una drag King”.
“Estos actos hacen que cada vez nos sintamos más inseguras. Chueca es un espacio creado para las lesbianas, un lugar seguro para la disidencia y donde trabajamos puras mujeres. Claramente, esto es amedrentamiento.” (Original)
Requests for a memorial token to commemorate lesbian prisoners in the former Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp have been submitted as far back as 2012. Now the management of the Ravensbrück Memorial and the Board of Directors of the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation have finally approved the installation, as announced by the foundation in a press release on July 14th.
The memorial is to be in the shape of a ceramic ball which will be permanently placed on the new memorial area on the former camp wall in spring 2022, as part of the observance of the 77th anniversary of the camp’s liberation. The inscription reads: “In memory of all lesbian women and girls in the Ravensbrück and Uckermark women’s concentration camps. They were persecuted, imprisoned and even murdered. You are not forgotten.”
Heated Debate: Have Lesbians Been Persecuted?
This decision was preceded by a decade-long dispute over recognition of a lesbian memorial. Applications for a memorial had been rejected by the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation for a long time on the grounds that, according to the criminal law of the Nazi state, only men were criminalized for homosexual acts and brought to the concentration camp for this. There was no comparable persecution of lesbian women under criminal law in Germany. The LSVD spokesman at the time, Alexander Zinn, therefore claimed that a memorial sign for lesbian women would create the “myth of lesbian persecution”.
As Marion Lüttig, head of the Lesbenring, explained in a press release today, how lesbian women and girls were considered “because of their independence they were considered to be ‘degenerate’ and anti-social during the Nazi era. They were psychiatricized, forced into prostitution in camps and imprisoned.” Lesbian acts were also punishable in the camps. The suffering and persecution of lesbian women under National Socialism have only been dealt with in part, to this day. This is also due to the difficulty of getting such research projects funded at all, as historian Claudia Schoppmann told our sister magazine Victory Column in 2018.
Lesbian Ring: “Undignified debate has finally come to an end”
LesbenRing board member Marion Lüttig was delighted with the decision: “We are relieved that the unworthy debate about whether lesbians have ever been persecuted and the years of rejection of a memorial sign are finally over. With the decision of the foundation to install the memorial orb, over three quarters of a century after the liberation of the camp, the suffering of lesbian women and girls is finally made visible. “
The LesbenRing criticizes the fact that lesbian history is hardly present in the historiography of mainstream society. The persecution and murder of lesbian women during the Nazi era was and is still denied. “To this day, the massive hostility towards homosexuality, in the context of which the traditional testimonies are shaped, determines the politics of rememberance and research.” (Translated)
Bereits seit 2012 liegen Anträge für ein Gedenkzeichen vor, das an lesbische Häftlinge des ehemaligen Frauen-Konzentrationslager Ravensbrück erinnern soll. Nun haben die Leitung der Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück und der Vorstand der Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten einem entsprechenden Antrag doch noch zugestimmt. Das gab die Stiftung in einer Pressemitteilung vom 14. Juli bekannt.
Das Gedenkzeichen soll die Form einer aus Keramik gestalteten Kugel haben und im Frühjahr 2022, im Rahmen der Feierlichkeiten zum 77. Jahrestag der Befreiung, auf dem neuen Gedenkareal an der ehemaligen Lagermauer dauerhaft niedergelegt werden. Die Inschrift lautet: „In Gedenken aller lesbischer Frauen und Mädchen im Frauen-KZ Ravensbrück und Uckermark. Sie wurden verfolgt, inhaftiert, auch ermordet. Ihr seid nicht vergessen.“
Hitzige Debatte: Wurden Lesben verfolgt?
Vorangegangen war ein jahrzehntelanger Streit um die Anerkennung lesbischen Gedenkens. Anträge für ein Gedenkzeichen waren von der Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten lange abgelehnt worden – mit der Begründung, dass nach dem Strafrecht des NS-Staats allein Männer aufgrund homosexueller Handlungen kriminalisiert und dafür ins KZ gebracht wurden. Eine vergleichbare Verfolgung lesbischer Frauen nach dem Strafrecht gab es in Deutschland nicht. Der damlige Sprecher des LSVD, Alexander Zinn, behauptete deswegen, mit einem Gedenkzeichen für lesbische Frauen würde die „Legende einer Lesbenverfolgung“ geschaffen.
Wie Marion Lüttig, Vorständin des Lesbenrings, heute in einer Pressemitteilung ausführte, galten lesbische Frauen und Mädchen in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus allerdings „durch ihre Unabhängigkeit als ,entartet` und asozial. Sie wurden psychiatrisiert, zur Prostitution in Lagern gezwungen und inhaftiert.“ Auch standen in den Lagern lesbische Handlungen unter Strafe. Das Leid und die Verfolgung lesbischer Frauen im Nationalsozialismus sind bis heute nur lückenhaft aufgearbeitet. Auch aufgrund der Schwierigkeit, entsprechende Forschungsprojekte überhaupt finanziert zu bekommen, wie die Historikerin Claudia Schoppmann 2018 unserem Schwestermagazin Siegessäule erzählte.
LesbenRing: „Unwürdige Debatte hat endlich ein Ende“
LesbenRing-Vorständin Marion Lüttig freute sich sehr über die Entscheidung: „Wir sind erleichtert, dass die unwürdige Debatte, ob Lesben je verfolgt worden seien, und die jahrelange Ablehnung eines Gedenkzeichens endlich ein Ende haben. Mit der Entscheidung der Stiftung für die Gedenkkugel wird das Leid von lesbischen Frauen und Mädchen über ein dreiviertel Jahrhundert nach der Befreiung des Konzentrationslagers endlich sichtbar gemacht.“
Der LesbenRing kritisiert, das lesbische Geschichte in der Geschichtsschreibung der Mehrheitsgesellschaft kaum präsent sei. So wurde und werde die Verfolgung und Ermordung lesbischer Frauen in der NS-Zeit geleugnet. „Bis heute bestimmt die massive Homosexuellenfeindlichkeit, von der die Mehrheit der überlieferten Zeugnisse geprägt ist, Erinnerungspolitik und Forschung.“
5 July 2021: A Connecticut double murder-suicide may have been pushed by the killer’s homophobia, the household of one of the victims mentioned.
David Knowledge, 65, killed himself Friday in his Windsor Locks house after he shot his spouse, her daughter and an 18-year-old girl mentioned to be the daughter’s lover, The Journal Inquirer reported.
His spouse, Delores Tracey Knowledge, 44, and pal Lauren “Lela” Leslie died – however the unnamed daughter survived and was handled for a number of gunshot wounds at an area hospital, The Hartford Courant mentioned.
Leslie’s brother Jhavier Leslie informed the Courant the household needed an investigation to see if the crime was “rooted in hate.”
“It’s arduous to undergo this new actuality of not having her right here, however I feel it is a half of an even bigger situation in society that should be addressed of simply homophobia and the risks round that,” Leslie mentioned, based on the Courant.
“She spent her entire life barely speaking as a result of she was afraid of who she was and she or he lastly gained the power to understand who she is, so it’s very troublesome for me to know that now, her being her true self and dwelling in her actuality, that is the outcome of that in my eyes,” he added.
Massimo Sebastiani was sentenced to 20 years for the murder of Elisa Pomarelli, the young friend he strangled in August 2019 and whose body was hidden by the murderer in the hills in the province of Piacenza. The prosecutor had asked for 24 years for Sebastiani, who was arrested after a few days on the run hidden in the hills, before being accused of murder and concealment of a corpse.
The wrath of Elisa’s family – “This is not justice, 20 years is so short. She deserved a life sentence”, said the victim’s family after dscovering the sentence. Elisa was strangled by a man she had considered a friend. Sebastiani, on the other hand, was convinced that Elisa was his girlfriend. After killing her, the 47-year-old worker sent messages to Elisa with the intention of throwing off the investigation. (Translated)
Massimo Sebastiani è stato condannato a 20 anni per l’omicidio di Elisa Pomarelli, la giovane amica che nell’agosto del 2019 venne strangolata e il cui corpo fu nascosto dall’assassino sulle colline in provincia di Piacenza. La procura aveva chiesto 24 anni per Sebastiani, arrestato dopo alcuni giorni in fuga nascosto sulle colline, imputato per omicidio volontario e occultamento di cadavere e processato in abbreviato.
L’ira della famiglia di Elisa – “Questa non è giustizia, 20 anni sono pochi. Meritava l’ergastolo”, hanno detto i familiari della vittima dopo la lettura della sentenza. Elisa fu strangolata da quello che considerava un amico. Sebastiani, invece, era convinto che Elisa fosse la sua fidanzata. Dopo averla uccisa l’operaio 47enne inviò dei messaggi a Elisa con l’intenzione di depistare le indagini. (Original)
Part two of this extract, the first part of which the Mail & Guardian published last week, lists the names of black lesbians who were murdered between 2007 and 2018, allegedly because of their sexual orientation.
On the morning of June 22, at the age of 39, Ana Paula Campestrini was executed with 14 shots when she arrived home. The entire event, which lasted about ten seconds, was recorded by the security cameras of the condominium where she lived, in Curitiba (PR). …
Living a personal process of discovery, Ana discovered that she was a lesbian and asked for a divorce from her husband, butr never from the children. From that point she was subjected to blackmail and threats from her ex, lawyer Wagner Oganauskas. …
“The only thing she wanted was to be able to be happy being who she was [a lesbian woman] and to be able to have contact with her children. And she was taken from our lives,” said Luana, in a choked voice, over the phone, as she headed to the demonstration for justice by Ana Paula. On Sunday (27 June), dozens of people walked through the central streets of Curitiba asking for the investigation into her murder to be prioritised. Two suspects have been arrested: Wagner Oganauskas, ex-husband of Ana Paula, and a friend of his, Marcos Antônio Ramon. (Translated)
Na manhã de 22 de junho, aos 39 anos, Ana Paula Campestrini foi executada com 14 tiros ao chegar em casa. Quatorze. Toda a ação, que dura cerca de dez segundos, foi registrada pelas câmeras de segurança do condomínio onde ela morava, em Curitiba (PR). …
Vivendo um processo pessoal de descobertas, Ana se entendeu lésbica e pediu o divórcio. Do marido. Nunca dos filhos. Mas desde então passou a sofrer chantagens e ameaças do ex, o advogado Wagner Oganauskas. …
“A única coisa que ela queria era poder ser feliz sendo quem ela era [uma mulher lésbica] e poder ter contato com os filhos. E ela foi arrancada das nossas vidas”, desabafou Luana, com a voz embargada, por telefone, enquanto se dirigia à manifestação por justiça por Ana Paula. No domingo (27), dezenas de pessoas caminharam pelas ruas centrais de Curitiba pedindo celeridade na apuração do crime. Dois suspeitos foram presos: Wagner Oganauskas, ex-marido de Ana Paula, e um amigo dele, Marcos Antônio Ramon. (Original)
This is an edited extract from the book Femicide in South Africa (Kwela) by Nechama Brodie.
In 1990, the year that Nelson Mandela was released, Johannesburg held the very first Gay and Lesbian Pride march, at which Simon Nkoli, Beverly Ditsie and Justice Edwin Cameron were among the speakers. The marchers chanted, “Out of the closet and into the streets.”
It was a significant moment, even though it would take several more years before gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) individuals would be granted similar rights and protections as hetero- and cis-sexual South Africans, first under an interim and then a final constitution that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender.
Between 1994 and 2005 a number of legal amendments were made and new laws introduced that formalised rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals. The criminalisation of sodomy was declared unconstitutional. Same-sex partners were granted similar rights in terms of immigration and financial benefits as those granted to different-sex spouses or partners. Trans and intersex individuals were allowed to change their legally recognised sex. Same-sex couples were allowed to jointly adopt children or adopt each other’s children. Lesbian couples were allowed to be registered as the natural, legitimate parents of a child that one of them had born.
There were also challenges to the constitutionality of the Marriage Act, which did not then allow for same-sex unions to be recognised as marriages. By late 2005, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Marriage Act was unconstitutional and gave parliament one year in which to remedy the matter.
But being “out of the closet” also meant that LGBTI individuals were more openly targeted for hate, harassment, victimisation and violence — even as these new laws were passed supposedly protecting their rights. Although this text focuses on violence against black lesbians, it is important to note that the growth in hate crimes was experienced by all members of the LGBTI community, with transgender individuals experiencing even higher levels of violence, as a group, than lesbians or gay men.
Black lesbians face double jeopardy This is also a good place to discuss why this is about “black lesbians” and not just lesbians, and also what the concept of “black lesbians” represents as a group, even though it is quite obviously made up of individual black women who are by no means homogenous because of their sexual preference.
In Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Jane Bennett, Vasu Reddy and Relebohile Moletsane’s book The Country We Want to Live In: Hate Crimes and Homophobia in the Lives of Black Lesbian South Africans (HSRC Press, 2010), they note that, although there were risks to “singling out a particular group of people as targets of gender-based violence”, black lesbians were “doubly vulnerable”.
This was because, firstly, although all women in South Africa were vulnerable to violence, there was a correlation between increased poverty and increased vulnerability and, in South Africa, being black meant there was a greater association with being poor or having less access to resources. Not only did black women live in environments in which, just as other black women, they were vulnerable to attack, they also lived in places in which cultures were often deeply homophobic and in which sexual violence had become a “popular weapon”.
In the 1980s, the country’s ongoing rape crisis had started to take on chilling new aspects, including gang rapes that became known as “jackrolling”. Jackrolling initially involved the selection and abduction of a victim, usually a woman who (her attackers believed) presented herself as if she was “better than them” and “out of reach”. There were echoes of these sentiments in the growing number of stories that began to emerge during the 1990s of black lesbian women being targeted, being beaten and raped by men, supposedly as a means of “teaching them how to be proper women”.
This gradually became referred to as “curative” or “corrective” rape, and involved three distinct aspects: one was punishment of the woman, for her choice of sexual identity and her lifestyle; a second was the humiliation of the victim — as with jackrolling, this was often achieved through gang rapes; the third was the repulsive misnomer of “transforming” lesbians into heterosexual women through violent penetration.
Even as newspapers carried the occasional story about black lesbians’ struggles for acceptance individually or within their communities in the context of the changing legislative landscape, almost every single one of these women’s accounts also included incidents of violence, most frequently rape. Sometimes these women were even raped with the knowledge of their family members, who either actively encouraged the assault in the hope of ridding the young woman of her homosexuality, or tacitly accepted such attacks as what should happen to “girls like that”.
DURBAN – THE MEC for Social Development in KwaZulu-Natal is calling on residents to rally around the LGBTI+ community following the gruesome murder of a 22-year-old woman.
MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza said KwaMakhutha resident Anele Bhengu’s body was found dumped in the Durban south township.
She was raped and stabbed repeatedly. Her throat and abdomen was also slit.
“The brutal murder of this child is symptomatic of the challenges we have in the society. We are left in shock and fear by the killing of our children in this province,” she said.
Khoza said communities had a responsibility to end these violent crimes in the province.
“We need to get to the bottom of this as to why people have so much hatred towards the LGBTQIA+ community. We call on all citizens to work with the law enforcement agencies, government and different bodies to end such cruelty,” Khoza said.
She said although the government and different activities continue to fight the scourge of these murders, some communities continue to discriminate against some people based on their sexual orientation.
Cape Town – A black lesbian, living in Khayelitsha, was killed in a suspected homophobic attack after her body was discovered on Friday inside her home at a newly-established informal settlement.
The family of Lulama Mvandaba said they believed she was targeted because of her sexuality. Mvelisi Mvandaba said their elder sister’s death came five months to the day after their mother’s death.
“We ask for privacy at this point and will issue a statement about her death once we have had time to grieve, as, unfortunately, she was murdered due to her sexuality and as a member of the LGBTQI+ community.
“To those who knew her vivacious energy and warmth, we extend our heartfelt condolences to you all.
“We are extremely shocked and traumatised as a family and can only imagine how all the kids she touched during her career will be feeling,” he said.
Mvandaba’s death comes after the murder of several gay and lesbian people across the Western Cape.