It’s been reported that a 24-year-old lesbian mom from Zimbabwe was brutally murdered in Gauteng.
In a statement, FEW (Forum for the Empowerment of Women) said it first heard of the news of Ruth “Nickki” Chigowe’s death on 27 May.
Her unidentified lifeless body was discovered “stoned to death” in Maphanga section, Katlehong, a large township southeast of Johannesburg. It was only on 31 May that the organisation was able to confirm Chigowe’s identity.
A murder case has been opened at the Katlehong North Police station. No arrests have yet been made.
Zaheeda Munyai from Access Chapter 2 told MambaOnline that Chigowe came to South Africa in 2019.
“According to the information I have found from community members, her parents disowned her due to her sexual orientation,” said Munyai. “She then found a job in a tuckshop and started to rent a room at Holomisa.”
Munyai revealed that it’s been claimed that two weeks before she was killed, Chigowe and her girlfriend “received homophobic threats from guys around the area wherein they uttered that they both deserve to be raped and killed.”
To add to the tragedy, Chigowe leaves behind a one-year-old daughter. “There is an urgent need for a massive intervention in Katlehong,” said an exasperated Munyai. “LGBTI people live in fear and they can’t even disclose their relationships in public.”
Lesbian Pinky Shongwe, 32, from Umlazi [South Africa] was stabbed to death by a man who was making romantic advances which she rejected.
Shongwe’s body was discovered this week.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Nqobile Gwala said a case of murder was opened by Umlazi police for investigation after a 32-year-old female was allegedly stabbed. She said the victim left home to go to a local shop but was stabbed multiple times by an unknown suspect.
“She was found lying on the road and was taken to hospital where she succumbed to her injuries on arrival. The motive of the killing is unknown and the matter is still under investigation,” said Gwala.
The victim’s sister Khethiwe Shongwe, said her sister had gone to a nearby shop when she was confronted by an unknown man who stopped and proposed love. She said she was home on the South Coast when she received a call that her sister had been stabbed, adding she was rushed to hospital but the family was told she had died on arrival.
Khethiwe said her sister had chosen to live her life openly as a lesbian, and her family and neighbours knew that she was lesbian. She said she did know whether the perpetrator was from the area, as no one had come forward with information about him.
Decorated army veteran Yvonne Sillett will appear at the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide on Monday. Yvonne was driven out of the Australian Army over her sexuality three years before the government changed policy and allowed gays and lesbians to serve.
Rabia was just 15-years-old when she became engaged to a Taliban officer against her will in a small village in Afghanistan.
Now 22-years-old, Rabia has fled Afghanistan and has managed to get away from the man who made her adolescence hell. She is temporarily living in Pakistan, but she’s hopeful she will ultimately be able to claim asylum in either Canada or the UK so she can build a life for herself.
Like so many others, Rabia had no choice but to flee when the Taliban seized power. She is a lesbian, which makes her a threat to Taliban rule. To make matters worse, she knew the man she was engaged to as a teenager was still trying to track her down.
That’s why she and a friend – another lesbian – decided to travel to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“We had lots of problems because the Taliban stopped us along the way several times,” Rabia tells PinkNews.
Thankfully, Rabia and her friend managed to get into Pakistan with the help of a journalist who advocated for them at the border – but she wishes leaving was never a necessity in the first place.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have arrested lesbian activist Sareh in the West Azerbaijan Province of Iran.
Twenty-eight-year-old Sareh, was detained for 21 days by the Iraqi Kurdistan police after her interview with BBC Persian about the situation of the LGBTQI community in Iraqi Kurdistan.
After release, she made an attempt to cross the Iranian border to seek asylum in Turkey. Sareh was arrested on October 27, 2021 while attempting to cross the borders to Turkey.
Tasnim News Agency, an agency affiliated with security forces, reported that IRGC had arrested individuals in West Azerbaijan on charges of “communicating with and supporting homosexual groups”.
IRGC is a branch of Iran’s armed forces that was set up after the 1979 Iranian revolution to defend the country’s Islamic Republic political system, according to the report by BBC. Iran criminalises sex between men with the death penalty and sex between women with a hundred lashes.
Hours before leaving for Turkey, Sarah [sic] made three short videos and sent them to a trusted person. according to 6Rang. Sareh’s intention was to make her voice heard by the media and human rights organisations in case she got arrested.
“I arrived in Iran yesterday. They found out today that I am here,” she said in the video clip in Arabic. “I may be arrested any moment. They have all the information about me. They are after me. I have to get out immediately.”
“I reached the border somehow. I filmed the route,” she said in the same clip. “I wanted to send you this clip to make you understand how much we are suffering, as part of the LGBTQI community. We will resist till the end. We will remain true to ourselves. I hope a day comes when we can all live freely in our country,” she said.
“I was kept in solitary confinement because I am homosexual. I was electrocuted. Those 21 days felt like 21 years,” she said, about ways in which IRGC tormented her.
Sexually explicit lesbian videos showing a former star of the national women’s soccer team and her partner spread widely in Cameroon last week. In response, social media sites were ablaze with people claiming to be outraged. Online and off, discrimination and insults against LGBTI people in Cameroon intensified, and police made arbitrary arrests of several gay and trans Cameroonians.
The videos showing Gaelle Enaganouit, the former forward team manager of the Indomitable Lions, could put her at risk of prosecution under Cameroon’s anti-homosexuality law.
Article 347-1 of the Cameroonian penal code states: “Any person who has sexual intercourse with a person of the same sex shall be punished with an imprisonment of six (06) months to five (05) years and a fine of twenty thousand (20,000) to two hundred thousand (200,000) [CFA] francs” (about US $35 to $350).
According to the news website CoupsFrancs.com, the advocacy group Stand Up Against the Decriminalization of Homosexuality yesterday filed a complaint in court in Yaoundé, Cameroon, accusing her and Brenda Ahanda of the “practice of homosexuality”.
Reportedly Enaganouit has left the country and traveled to France.
LGBTI rights activists have noticed an upswing in violations of the human rights of LGBTI citizens, including five arbitrary arrests of gay and transgender people in Douala.
Activists have been forced to defend their personal security more rigorously.
Mix (pseudonym), a lesbian rights activist, stated: “I have been living in lock-up since the beginning of this story, I can no longer go out for fear of being attacked by neighbors and young people in the neighborhood. They call me Enganamouit’s sister, Mama Scissors.”
The national human rights watchdog project Unity and its member associations are urging Cameroonians to show more tolerance and have advised LGBTI community members to be cautious and discreet.
A fifteen year old girl has been raped by two men as punishment for suspected lesbianism in the town of Yilo Krobo in Eastern Ghana.
It was reported on Africa Feeds, that the suspects, who shared housing with the victim and her friend, confronted the girls with an allegation of lesbianism and tried to offer them money for sex. When the girls refused, the men attempted to sexually assault them. One of the girls escaped, but the other was raped a number of times by the suspects.
The fifteen year old victim reported the attack to the police and one of the suspects has been taken into custody. The other suspect has yet to be apprehended.
Currently there are a number of legislators in the country trying to pass an anti-homosexual law that states anyone who engages in sexual acts with members of the same-sex will be “liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than seven hundred and fifty penalty units and not more than five thousand penalty units, or to a term of imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than five years or both.”
This bill, if passed, will apply to anyone who “holds out as a lesbian, a gay, a transgender, a transsexual, a queer, a pansexual, an ally, a non-binary or any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female.” It will also seek to punish people who promote and/or are allies to the LGBT+ community.
Back in May, when the streaming platform Twitch announced the release of more than 350 new “identity tags” that could be used to sort streams into distinctive categories, Jess Bolden was excited.
The 25-year-old FACEIT Games Esports analyst, who lives between France and Italy with her female partner, streams the game Rainbow Six Siege, a largely male-dominated pursuit. Bolden was once Samsung team head coach for the game, which she streams under the name JessGOAT.
She figured she could use the new “lesbian” tag to show other lesbian gamers that her stream was a safe space for them. But, Bolden says, she felt conflicted. “I would look at the tag for that extra second, to question myself, and I’m usually confident in everything that I do,” Bolden says. “So there’s obviously a problem.”
Bolden’s hesitancy was justifiable. Twitch has been widely criticized for an ongoing scandal involving “hate raids” aimed mostly at its BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ users. These attacks are carried out by bots programmed to spam streamers’ chats with offensive messages. The conditions became so bad that Twitch users started a campaign — #TwitchDoBetter — to push for change, and at one point arranged a digital “protest” where streamers boycotted the platform in solidarity with hate raid victims.
In response, Twitch last month filed a lawsuit against two users allegedly behind many hate raids and, more recently, introduced chat verification.
While hate against streamers is common, lesbians feel they are the subject of both sexism and a specific kind of sexualization. “We get multiple DMs, like ‘I could turn you straight’ or ‘You haven’t found the right guy,’” says Baeu, an 18-year-old lesbian streamer from Florida who broadcasts to followers under the name Spoink. Baeu is a member of Lilac Lesbians, a Minecraft Championship team hoping to increase lesbian representation in gaming. (Input is withholding the last names of most of the streamers in this piece out of concern for their safety.)
“Even when I was underage, they’d still message me inappropriate stuff,” Baeu adds. “Twitch’s solution was pretty much: ‘Oh, well you have your messages open.’” She adds that multiple reports she’s submitted to the company about harassment have not resulted in any action against offending users.
The “lesbian” tag has only increased harassment, according to Bolden. “‘I hate gays’ is probably the most common [comment],” she says. “Or people complaining that I’m a lesbian.” All of the streamers interviewed agreed that they had seen abuse aimed specifically at lesbians, ranging from statements like “of course you’re a lesbian — you’re fat” to assertions that the lesbian streamers were “going to hell” because of their sexuality.
A man in France is on trial for allegedly raping and torturing his lesbian sister and her girlfriends. Samy M reportedly lured his sister and her friends to the river Drôme, where he sexually abused and tortured the women. He is said to have used a razor to cut a ‘permanent smile’ on his sister’s girlfriend’s face. Her scars are still evident and will likely disfigure the victim for life.
Samy M has been on trial since Monday, September 27, at the Drôme Regional Court in Valence for the December 2018 crimes. As mentioned, he abducted and raped his then 24-year-old sister, who had left the family home in Bourg-de-Péage a month earlier, Les Observateurs reported. The man attacked his sibling after finding out she was having an intimate relationship with a woman, thereby going against the doctrine of Islam. Samy M was armed and hooded when he forced the victims to a deserted place, beat them, forced them to kneel down, and subsequently carved deep cuts on both cheeks of his sister’s girlfriend with a razor. “I will make you smile forever,” he allegedly told them, per the victims’ testimony in court.
Once again, lesbians at Kakuma camp in Kenya at Block 13, along with the other refugees, are in danger, as they have suffered a fourth arson attack this year.
On August 16, the block was awakened by what sounded like gunshots. When they arose, they were met with the smell of petrol fumes all over their compound and they noticed huge amounts of it all around the shelter where the children sleep.
Police were called. They refused to come out to investigate before daylight. Thankfully the children were moved.
The police told them to leave the petrol containers as they were evidence. It turns out the petrol wasn’t just around the children’s shelter.
An hour later, the entire block was alight. From the time this was all reported, it took two-and-a-half hours for the police to show up. The station is five minutes away.
Every single bit of shelter they had left there burned to the ground, as did everything inside them and near to them.
They, quite literally, have nothing left. Twenty-five children and their mothers are now without any shelter.
There is absolutely nothing to protect them from the burning African sun, or the torrential downpours when they come.
They have no food, clothing, shelter, toiletries, or any other essentials to survive even at night.
All of their documentation and IDs as well as any personal belongings are gone. They have been left with only the clothing on their backs.
The intent of these violent crimes is clearly to kill and injure the LGB&T community in Kakuma.
A refugee because of homophobia and violence in Mozambique, Lara was assaulted and saw friends being killed and raped for their sexuality. Since 2013, she has lived with her wife and child in São Paulo. … “He punched me in the face, I’ll never forget it,” recalls 37-year-old businesswoman Lara Lopes, referring to one of her memories of life in Mozambique, Southeast Africa, when she was attacked by a man in the street for being a lesbian. Another vivid memory was the day her own family excluded her from dinner. “I never forget the day I went to dinner at my aunt’s house with my cousins. They excluded me, put me in a corner by myself and forbade their women to talk to me”. Both episodes were based on the same reason: homophobia. … Her father, who was very involved in sport, heard other people talking about Lara and left the family because of his daughter’s sexuality. “He always heard something, but he never came to talk about it. One day he left the house, he didn’t tell anyone and when my mother tried to find out why, he said that I was using drugs, but I never did that in my life. I soon understood what was happening”, she says.
In addition to her father’s abandonment, prejudice, according to her, is part of a society strongly influenced by Christian religions, predominantly evangelical ones. “They cursed and yelled in the street, I sometimes heard it, without even knowing where the person was. Sometimes the person would throw something from the top of a building on our heads – there were people who would throw water”.
Other than that, Lara saw even more violent forms of homophobia in the country where it was a crime to be gay until July 2015. “In the south they do a lot. Two friends of mine who couldn’t stand the verbal abuse were murdered. I sometimes ask myself: if I were still in Mozambique wouldn’t that be me?”, she asks.
One of the cases she remembers was the day when a man attacked her at the end of a football game. “It was in a public field in the center of the city, called Campo do Estrela. It’s normal for men to hint, but there are people who swallow it, my friends don’t. The guy wanted to start a fight with us, he went for it completely, cursed us with a lot of names, he punched me in the face. And I’m absolutely sure that if he sees me today, he’ll remember it very well”, she says, disgusted. “These are things you can’t forget, they’re kept there in a little drawer”, she laments.
State violence Homophobia is a legacy of colonialism that prevails to this day in at least 30 African countries which retain the criminalisation of same-sex relationships, or otherwise restrict non-heteronormative sexual practices, according to information from the 2019 State-Sponsored Homophobia report, produced by International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).
Mozambique, which was a Portuguese colony, broke away from its Penal Code that penalised LGBT people in 2015, but no protection was granted in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity, says the report, which also pointed to the Mozambican state’s refusal to register the NGO Lambda Moçambique, which deals with LGBT rights”.
Lambda has been in a legal battle for more than 10 years to be legally recognized by the Mozambican government, despite being the first association for the defense of sexual minorities in the country. The entity’s performance was also part of Lara’s life. “Despite being dangerous, I have always lived with LGBT people, I was part of the direction of Lambda, which is still not accepted by the government. It is not an easy task. Religion influences so much, especially the evangelicals. They think they are the owners of the truth and position themselves as God. My wife’s mother is an extreme evangelical, for example.”
Refugiada por causa da LGBTfobia e da violência do Estado de Moçambique, Lara foi agredida e viu amigas sendo mortas e estupradas por sua sexualidade. Desde 2013, ela vive com a esposa e um filho em São Paulo … “Ele me deu um soco na cara, nunca vou esquecer isso”, lembra a empresária de 37 anos, Lara Lopes, ao se referir a uma das memórias de sua vida em Moçambique, sudeste da África – ela foi agredida por um homem na rua por ser lésbica. Outra recordação viva em sua mente foi o dia em que a própria família a excluiu de um jantar. “Nunca esqueço o dia que eu fui jantar na casa da minha tia, entre primos, eles me excluíram, me colocaram num canto sozinha e proibiram suas mulheres de conversarem comigo”. Ambos os episódios têm o mesmo motivo: LGBTfobia. … O pai, que frequentava muito o meio do esporte, ouvia outras pessoas falando de Lara e abandonou a família por conta da orientação sexual da filha. “Ele ouvia sempre alguma coisa, mas nunca chegou para conversar a respeito. Um dia ele saiu de casa, não falou para ninguém e quando a minha mãe procurou saber o porquê, ele falou que eu estava consumindo drogas, mas eu nunca consumi na minha vida. Logo entendi o que estava acontecendo”, conta.
Além do abandono do pai, o preconceito, segundo ela, faz parte da sociedade influenciada fortemente por religiões cristãs, predominantemente as evangélicas. “Xingavam e gritavam na rua, eu ouvia às vezes, sem nem saber onde é que a pessoa estava. Às vezes a pessoa jogava alguma coisa do alto de um prédio na nossa cabeça, tinha gente que jogava água”.
Fora isso, Lara viu formas ainda mais violentas de LGBTfobia no país em que era crime ser homossexual até julho de 2015. “Chamam a pratica de estupro em pessoas LGBTs de ‘violação cura’, ou ‘violação correctiva’, que agora na África do Sul eles fazem muito. Duas amigas minhas que não aguentavam os desaforos foram assassinadas. Eu às vezes me pergunto: será que se eu estivesse em Moçambique não estaria nessa estatística delas duas?”, questiona.
Um dos casos lembrados por ela foi o dia em que um homem a agrediu ao final de um jogo de futebol. “Foi em um campo público que fica no centro da cidade, chama-se Campo do Estrela. É normal os homens mandarem indiretas, só que tem gente que engole, minhas amigas não. O cara estava com vontade de criar briga com a gente, ele foi pra cima, com tudo mesmo, xingou a gente um monte de nome, ele me deu um soco na cara. E eu tenho a certeza absoluta que se ele me ver hoje, ele vai se lembrar muito bem disso”, conta, revoltada. “São coisas que não tem como você esquecer, está lá guardado numa gavetinha”, lamenta.
Violência do Estado A LGBTfobia é uma herança do colonialismo que impera até hoje em ao menos 30 países africanos que persistem em manter como crime as relações entre pessoas do mesmo sexo ou em restringir práticas sexuais não heteronormativas, segundo informações do relatório Homofobia Patrocinada pelo Estado 2019, produzido pela Associação Internacional de Gays e Lésbicas (ILGA).
Moçambique, que foi colônia portuguesa, se desvencilhou de seu Código Penal que penalizava pessoas LGBT em 2015, mas nenhuma proteção foi concedida em relação à orientação sexual ou identidade de gênero, diz o relatório, que também apontou a negação do Estado moçambicano em registar a ONG Lambda Moçambique, que trata dos direitos LGBTs “.
Lambda está há mais de 10 anos em uma batalha jurídica para ser reconhecida legalmente pelo governo moçambicano, apesar de ser a primeira associação de defesa de minorias sexuais no país. A atuação da entidade também fez parte da vida de Lara. “Apesar de ser perigoso, eu sempre convivi com pessoas LGBTs, fiz parte da direção da Lambda, que até agora não é assumida pelo governo, não é uma tarefa fácil. A religião influencia ainda mais, principalmente na parte dos evangélicos, eles se acham os donos da verdade e se colocam na posição de Deus. A mãe da minha esposa é evangélica extremista, por exemplo”.
As women, lesbians will be subjected to the brutal sex based oppression imposed on them by the Taliban, as well as being subjected to the brutal penalties for homosexuality, worsening the already dire position of lesbians in Afghanistan.
Those who concern me most, as a journalist who reported on the last takeover by the Taliban, are the women, girls and LGBT+ people of Afghanistan. It would be impossible to overstate the terrors they each face, now, simply by the mere fact of their existence in a male-dominated, cis-het society in which they have no real place and in which they are at best second-class citizens with no autonomy. Reporters in Afghanistan are already detailing the threat. And if they weren’t, the Taliban leadership has itself been succinct: Sharia law — Islamic law, religious law — will define everything in Afghanistan going forward. Within that construct there is no room for female, queer or trans autonomy. Imposition of the death penalty for homosexuality has been classified as judicial murder of gay and lesbian people; a form of genocide. Yet it is, according to Afghans and human rights advocates, imminent. On August 16, Nemat Sadat, the first gay Afghan to come out publicly, tweeted: “It’s not hyperbole to say that the Taliban will do what Nazis did to homosexuals: weed them out and exterminate them from Afghan society. Please help.” Last month, Gul Rahim, a Taliban judge, told the German newspaper Bild that, “There are only two penalties for gays: either stoning or they have to stand behind a wall that falls on them. The wall must be 2.5 to 3 meters [about 10 feet] high.” I have reported on “corrective rape” and honor killings of lesbians for various publications. I reported on lesbian asylum seekers fleeing Sharia law to the U.K. and stringent new asylum laws here in the U.S. NGOs have reported for years that gay men and lesbians have been raped as punishment–which the U.S. government knows. “[Gays and lesbians] continued to face arrest by security forces and discrimination, assault, and rape,” said the U.S. State Department’s country report on Afghanistan in 2020.
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.
Natalí fears for her life and that of her mother. They live together in an apartment in the northern area [of La Florida] and she is certain that her neighbors want to evict them for her being lesbian. She has reported them for harassment and threats in court. For a month she has had a panic button that, she says, she has used on several occasions. “They physically and verbally assaulted us. They tell us that they want the apartment and that we must leave here,” she said.
Her 64-year-old mother was one of the first residents of the La Florida monoblock apartments and Natalí has lived there since she was born 35 years ago. According to her, in 2019 the harassment began. The final straw which resulted in her seeking justice was a neighbour threatening her with a firearm. “I got to my house and a neighbor came out, verbally abused me and told me I had to go. He pulled a gun from his waistband and put it to my head. My mum heard noises and opened the door. I took advantage of his distraction to escape and enter my house,” she recalled.
Natalí teme por su vida y la de su madre. Viven juntas en un departamento de zona norte y asegura que sus vecinos las quieren echar por lesbiana. Los denunció por hostigamiento y amenazas en la Justicia y desde hace un mes tiene un botón antipánico que, asegura, usó en varias oportunidades. “Nos agredieron física y verbalmente. Nos dicen que quieren el departamento y que nos vayamos de acá”, contó.
Su madre, de 64 años, fue una de las primeras adjudicatarias de los departamentos del monoblock de La Florida y Natalí vive ahí desde que nació, hace 35 años. Según contó, en 2019 empezaron los hostigamientos. El límite que la llevó a la Justicia fue la amenaza con un arma de fuego de parte de un vecino. “Llegué a mi casa y un vecino salió, me insultó y me dijo me tenía que ir. Saco un arma de su cintura y me la puso en la cabeza. Mi mamá escuchó ruidos y abrió la puerta. Yo aproveché su distracción para escapar y entrar”, recordó.
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.
Nino, a 25-year-old lesbian from Georgia, no longer feels at ease when she leaves the house. Since violence forced a Pride march to be cancelled earlier this month, she is afraid of being verbally abused or chased in the street.
Reports of hate crimes have risen in the wake of the violence of July 5, when anti-Pride protesters assaulted journalists and stormed activists’ offices, and some LGBT+ Georgians say they are now living in fear.
“Things have changed. Life is no longer as simple as it once was,” Nino, 25, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said from the home she shares with her partner in the capital, Tbilisi.
“You’re more afraid that someone on the street will chase you and hurl abuse at you. You can no longer be so cheerful. You have an inner fear. It’s as if some tragedy is coming to you,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The homophobic violence that halted a planned “March for Dignity” has also raised political tensions in the former Soviet country as it prepares for an October local election – sparking protest rallies and scuffles in parliament.
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has rejected calls to resign from rights activists and opposition parties, who have accused his government of emboldening hate groups and failing to protect journalists and LGBT+ supporters.
In the run-up to the Pride events, Garibashvili said holding the LGBT+ march was “not reasonable” because most Georgians opposed it, and has since described the cancelled event as a “provocation” organised by the opposition.
Over the weekend, posters depicting opposition figures and the head of Tbilisi Pride under a rainbow splattered with blood sprang up across the capital.
The owner of the popular nightclub Nordic Bar said he is investigating claims that its bouncers kicked out and beat two women for sharing a kiss.
“We are carrying out our own investigations on the matter as well as collaborating with the police. This is a very serious matter,” the owner told Times of Malta adding that he would not be saying more until investigations are concluded.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) first flagged the issue after a woman recounted her “horrendous experience” at the bar on a Facebook group on Monday evening.
The woman said that once she and her partner were at the bar, they were asked to sit by the table due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We shared a kiss and soon enough one of the bouncers came to our table to kick us out,” the woman said. She said that as she and her partner were not sure why they were being thrown out, they both resisted and asked for a reason.
But the bouncer threw both of them to the ground and kicked them as he held them down, she said.
She added that she was “disgusted” by the way they were treated and that she had never experienced such homophobic abuse before.
In a survey, MGRM had found that half of the LGBTQ+ community find Paceville unsafe, and that many have experienced aggression from bouncers.
“At this point we advice the community not to go to this venue unless action is taken that guarantees our safety,” MGRM said in a Facebook post. The NGO said it will accompany anyone to a police station if they have been victims of abuse and will also offer free legal service and follow-ups.