Health4Men, a project of the Anova Health Institute, expresses outrage at the murder of a gay man in Kuruman, in Northern Cape province. Thapelo Makutle, a volunteer with a local gay organisation was gruesomely beheaded on Sunday 10 June after being confronted about his sexuality by his attackers.
This is clearly a hate crime on the basis of sexual identity and an extreme example of the ongoing prejudice and violence perpetuated against gay men in South Africa.
It is ironic that this 23-year old man was so horribly murdered during Youth Month.
It follows the sinister homophobic calls made during May by Patekile Holomisa, President of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (CONTRALESA), that protection of equal rights for gay people be removed from the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. It is chilling to note that Holomisa also serves as chairperson of the country’s Constitutional Review Committee.
The notion that homosexuality is unAfrican or foreign to traditional culture and values must be challenged more directly. In this regard Health4Men is conducting a series of workshops and seminars among gay-identifying black men in Gauteng and the Western Cape aimed at exploring ways in which they can affirm their identities.
Mmapaseka ‘Steve’ Letsike, Health4Men’s advocacy and training manager, urged authorities in Northern Cape to apprehend the responsible parties with urgency. “It is totally unacceptable that hate crimes against the gay community are not treated with sufficient diligence. We demand that the criminal-justice system starts taking this matter more seriously at national, provincial and regional levels.”
Health4Men’s program manager, Glenn de Swardt, added that such incidents impact on the sexual health of men who have sex with men, irrespective of their sexual identity (MSM). “While we promote accessible sexual healthcare for marginalised men by training healthcare workers in the public sector to work with MSM, ongoing homophobia and prejudice serve to make such men less likely to access medical services or to be open about the sexuality with healthcare staff. Homophobia doesn’t stop homosexual behaviour, it simply makes it more clandestine which has consequences for HIV prevalence among groupings of MSM.”