LGBTI activists condemn govt delays in signing Hate Crimes Bill into law

The Bill has gone back and forth between Parliament and the Department of Justice since it was introduced in 2018.

FILE: A small rainbow flag, representing equality for members of the LGBTI community. Picture: Stock.XCHNG

CAPE TOWN - LGBTI+ activists on Tuesday decried government's delays in signing the Hate Crimes Bill into law.

The Bill has gone back and forth between Parliament and the Department of Justice since it was introduced in 2018.

For the first time ever, the Triangle Project's Sharon Cox said there was successful conviction of three men after they kidnapped and gang-raped a gay man in the Western Cape.

The accused will be sentenced in the Worcester Magistrates Court next week. But because the Hate Crimes Bill is not yet law, Cox said the courts would not be able to consider aggravating circumstances in such cases.

"We have a very good magistrate in this case, she takes it very seriously but because legislation is not there, it's not going to be factored into the sentencing that he was targeted because he was a gay man."

The Bill lapsed in 2019. Last August, Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice called for public comment, which was meant to be concluded in December.

But that's been postponed once again, and neither activists nor lawmakers are any clearer on when it will finally be approved.