Pride and prejudice

2012-10-06 09:52

While thousands of people descended on Joburg’s Zoo Lake yesterday for the city’s annual Pride celebrations, a Soweto family was in mourning.

Their daughter, Desiree Ntombana Mafu, is dead. She was murdered and her body dumped in the Roodepoort cemetery, just days before another important event – Soweto Pride.

Desiree’s death, her family says, was a hate crime. Her killer or killers attacked Desiree because she was a lesbian.

Her death is one of many – the latest in a long line of horror stories involving young black women who dared to live their lives honestly and openly.

South Africa has no provision for prosecuting hate crimes. The deaths of lesbian women, gay men and members of the transgendered community are written off as “ordinary” crimes, as though such a thing even exists.

We are the first country on the African continent to legalise gay marriage. This is the only place in Africa where homosexuality is not outlawed. When will this freedom become part of people’s daily lives?

Pride is an excellent party. It’s a chance for people of all sexualities to come together and celebrate love, life and the hard-fought gains of South Africa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and transgendered community.

But as long as women like Desiree Ntombana Mafu continue to die because of other people’s hatred and fear, how can any of us call ourselves “proud”?

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