Although South Africa is one of the most liberal countries in the world when it comes to homosexuality and is the first country in Africa where same-sex marriage is legalised, corrective rapes still exist. This means that, especially in the black community, men try to rape lesbians with the intent of thereby “curing” her of her sexual orientation and convert her to be a heterosexual. This is one of the reasons why I chose this subject for my cultural awareness assignment.
At first I would like to inform you that I will be talking a lot of LGBT: This means lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, so actually every non-heterosexual. I will tell you something about the history of LGBT rights in South Africa during the Apartheid. Second, I will tell something about the post-apartheid situation. Than something about the current living conditions of LGBT people, a piece of cultural theory and at last my conclusion. Apartheid
The Apartheid government was hostile to the human rights of LGBT South Africans. Homosexuality was a crime punishable by up to seven years in prison; this law was used to harass South African gay community events and political activists. Despite opposition, several South African gay rights organisations formed in the late 1970s, during the time when the ruling National Party strengthened the national sodomy law. The Gay Association of South Africa was a white organisation that initially avoided taking an official position on apartheid, while the Rand Gay Organization was being multi-racial and was against the racist political system of apartheid. Also during the Apartheid, the South African Defense Force (the army) forced white gay and lesbian soldiers to undergo various medical "cures" for their sexual orientation, including sex change operations. The outbreak of the HIV-AIDS epidemic in South Africa, forced LGBT South Africans to reveal their sexual orientation, in order to be able together to fight the spread of the disease and to ensure that those that are infected have access to life-saving medicines.
The attitude and behaviour of the Apartheid government has a religious background. The Afrikaners or the farmers, believed that the bible said that homosexuality was a disease and that they shouldn't live in South Africa. Post-Apartheid
Due to the efforts of LGBT South Africans and the support of the African National Congress, in 1996 South Africa became the first nation in the world with a constitution which said that discrimination based on sexual orientation was prohibited. In 1998, Parliament passed the Employment Equity Act. The law protects South Africans from labour discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, among other categories. In 2000, similar protections were extended to public accommodations and services, which meant that for example gay bars and hotels were accepted. Since 2006, same-sex civil marriage is legal. Living conditions
Although the Constitutional and legal system in South Africa theoretically ensure equality, social acceptance is generally lacking, especially outside of urban areas. As I said in my intro, there have been a number of cases reported in which gay women have been murdered, beaten up or raped. This is mostly because of religious reasons and people in the suburbs are often more traditional and conservative.
Despite the occasional incidents of homophobia, gay people in major urban areas, such as Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town, are fairly accepted, and all of these cities have a gay nightlife. Cultural, arts, sports and outdoor activities play a major part in everyday South African gay life. Annual Gay pride events are held in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. Locally produced television programmes also focus on gay life. There is, for example, a soap opera featuring a long term gay relationship. South Africa attracts thousands of LGBT tourists annually, because of it's reputation as Africa's most gay-friendly destination. Gay-friendly establishments are situated throughout South Africa and may be found on various gay travel websites.
Prominent religious leaders have voiced their support for the South African LGBT community. The famous archbishop Desmond Tutu is a vocal supporter of gay rights in South Africa. Even the conservative Dutch reformed church said that gay members should not be discriminated against and could hold certain positions within the church.
To support the fact that South Africa is such a liberal country when it comes to homosexuality, I looked at the theory of Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions. These dimensions are Power Distance Index, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance Index and the Long-Term orientation. The most useful dimension to use for my presentation is individualism. As you can see the individualism in South Africa is 60, which is a lot more than the world's average of 40. You can conclude that in South Africa the ties between individuals are loose: people are expected to look after themselves and are not very loyal to certain groups. This is why homosexuals aren't afraid of coming out and make their own decisions.
South Africa has a diverse history when it comes to the legal and social status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as a result of traditional South African mores, western imperialism, Apartheid and the human rights movement. South Africa's post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, and on 1 December 2006 South Africa made history by becoming the fifth country in the world, and the first in Africa to legalise same-sex marriage. It was also the only republic to provide non-heterosexual individuals with exactly the same rights, such as adoption and military service, as heterosexual individuals. Despite the occasional incidents of homophobia, gay people are accepted in a lot of cities en I think this acceptance will only get bigger in the future.
Source 1: http://elasticstate.com/sangoma/documents/JStor/Donald%20L%20Donham.pdf
Source 2: http://static.rnw.nl/migratie/www.radionetherlands.nl/thestatewerein/otherstates/tswi-090826-south-africa-gay-redirected
Source 3: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=homosexuality%20in%20south%20africa&itool=QuerySuggestion
Source 4: http://mg.co.za/article/2010-06-04-homosexuality-and-the-battle-for-africas-soul
Source 5: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/africa/2002/africalive/2072057.stm
Source 6: http://www.anglican-mainstream.org.za/sexuality/homosexual-honesty/
Source 7: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_South_Africa