Jeff Radebe, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development stated that a draft policy framework on “Combating Hate Crimes, Hate Speech and Unfair Discrimination” has been finalized by his department, reported Reuters.
South Africa curently has no laws prohibiting hate crimes that specifically target people on the basis of their race, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or other forms of identity.
Violence against LGBT people and foreigners has intensified in the country, including murder, “corrective rape” of lesbians, and assaults. Such acts would be criminalized under such the new law.
Radebe added that the draft policy framework would be presented to the cabinet for approval prior to a public consultation process.
South Africa has come under pressure from human rights groups, including a petition signed by 170,000 people from 175 countries calling for the country to introduce such legislation due to the mounting violence against LGBT people.
“We worked so hard for this and it’s really great to see the minister finally do this,” said Ndumie Funda, who started the petition, according to a statement released by Change.org.
Funda told LGBTQ Nation that she welcomes the move, adding: “we’ve come a long way.”
According to Change.org, Funda estimated that 510 women report being the victims of “corrective” rape every year in South Africa and 31 lesbians have been murdered over the past 10 years because of their sexual orientation.”