23 June 2016
Concerns for the safety of lesbians and transwomen in South Africa's Pietermaritzburg have been voiced by the director of local NGO Gay and Lesbian Network (GLN).
In an interview with local newspaper, Maritzburg Fever, GLN director Anthony Waldhausen said that there is a concern for the safety of lesbians and transwomen in Pietermaritzburg as they are victimised.
“In certain areas of Pietermaritzburg, we are receiving a steady flow of hate crime reports which leaves the LGBTI community living in fear. The police at Plessislaer Police Station have been able to provide sensitised services to victims of hate crimes and this is very commendable. This shows that our sensitization workshops with police are working,” he said.
In response to the tragic Orlando club shooting, Waldhausen said that LGBTI and allies are calling for physical protection for LGBTI people.
“We are completely saddened and shocked by the shooting and we send our condolences to families and friends who lost loved ones. We also want to send a message to those who were injured a speedy recovery. We call on the South African government to move fast to enact the Hate Crime Bill so that hate crimes can be classified a criminal act, and that people who perpetrate acts of hate crimes can be persecuted and provide recourse for LGBTI people. We will intensify our advocacy work and also continue to provide support to LGBTI persons in need,” he said.
GLN is actively involved in breaking down barriers and addressing hate crimes not only in the city, but in the country as a whole.
“GLN is a member of the Hate Crime Working Group which is a national CSO body addressing hate crimes at a national level and has been lobbying government to introduce a Hate Crime law. Already government has prepared a Hate Crime Bill and GLN was actively involved in that process. We also serve on the government’s national task team which is addressing hate crimes against LGBTIs.