South Africa team starts work on anti-gay hate crimes
Aug 10, 2011, 10:18 GMT
Johannesburg - A governmental task force began work on Wednesday to combat violent hate crimes against gays and lesbians in South Africa.
The justice department announced the formation of the team in May, following a wave of so-called 'corrective rapes,' in which men brutally assault homosexual women, in order to change their sexual orientation.
The task force includes six people representing the judiciary, police and department of social development. A further six representatives will come from the gay and lesbian community.
Earlier this year, lesbian activist Noxolo Nogwaza was stoned, stabbed and gang-raped in a poor township outside Johannesburg, rallying international condemnation of South Africa's police force for not doing enough to protect the minority group.
More than 170,000 people from around the world signed a petition calling for 'corrective rape' crimes to be more seriously investigated, and demanding that the perpetrators be brought to justice.
Homosexuality is legal in South Africa, unlike in many neighbouring countries, and the state has offered gay marriage since 2006. But activists say that not enough is done to protect gays and lesbians, especially in the overcrowded and impoverished townships.