It was never about money, says lesbian who won damages in court

2015-08-13 20:15

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Cape Town- Two lesbians on the receiving end of a homophobic attack two years ago pursued a civil case because they wanted to make a statement.

“People often think it’s because of the money. This has nothing to do with the money. This was to make a statement that this cannot be done to people anymore,” one of the women told News24 shortly after judgment was handed down in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

“Gay people are harassed, badmouthed and heckled and there has been an escalation to a point that is unacceptable.”

The 37-year-old can only be identified as LD because of a court order.

Acting Judge Leslie Weinkove awarded her and her former partner of six years, 27-year-old AC, R150 000 each in damages for an unprovoked attack on their dignity in a pub two years ago.

The court found they suffered physical intimidation and emotional humiliation as a result of their sexual orientation.

'Pulled her head and hair backwards'

It also accepted their version that pub patron Jacques Thiart had flown into a rage, called AC "a fucking whore, a dyke, a cunt" and said he hated "all fucking lesbians". He said "she needed a cock up her arse" to come right.

He left the pub and said he was going "to kill her" and "fuck her up". He later returned, pulled her head and hair backwards, and then threw her head forwards.

When LD went back to the pub the next day, bar woman Denise Gerber pushed her out the doorway and she fell.

Pub owner Derrick Giles said he did not personally object to them, but that there was an objection to them as a lesbian couple.

The court awarded separate damages for medical expenses, counselling and lost earnings.

This is said to be the first time that a gay couple has pursued a case involving a homophobic attack through both the criminal and civil courts.

Faith in justice system restored

LD said she felt "absolute relief" that the legal action was finally over.

"This has been a very stressful thing for two years. I really wouldn't wish this whole process on my worst enemy."

The judgment had restored her faith in the justice system.

She said they broke up about a year ago, partly as a result of the case, but remained in contact.

The legal fees involved were "astronomical" and she was glad that the court had awarded costs to them.

"To get to a high court in a civil matter, the cost is so high that an average person cannot ever get to that level."

She thanked their attorney and advocate for taking the case on, working overtime and not charging them for some costs.

"They fought even though they are not necessarily gay. They believed in my cause and the wrongs that were done."

Read more on:    cape town  |  gay rights  |  crime

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