The Football v Homophobia campaign joined the One Billion Rising movement yesterday to call for homophobic rape to be recognised as a hate crime by the South African government.
As part of the LGBT month of action in February, Football v Homophobia aims to raise awareness of the issues of homophobic rape and gender-based violence in South Africa, a country in which progressive equality laws have been developed, but where in reality lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex people are subject to discrimination.
Since 2001, sixteen female footballers have been victims of homophobic rape (also referred to as “corrective” or “curative” rape) in South Africa. Most of the attacks go unreported for fear of reprisals, inaction, or further violence at the hands of the police and state, however 40 cases were documented during the same period.
In cooperation with South African feminist advocacy groups Luleki Sizwe and Free Gender, the campaign has published an infographic to inform and mobilise female footballers internationally.
“The situation in South Africa is critical, and there is no excuse for this delay in response. People know about the problem. The rape and murder of Eudy Simelane – the case that brought homophobic rape to international attention- happened five years ago, in 2008. It took three more years of activism and the delivery of a 170,000 name petition for the government to strike a Hate Crime Task Force. Now it’s 2013, and homophobic rape is still not classified a hate crime”, said Keph Senett from the Football v Homophobia campaign.
February is the international initiative’s month of action that through sports, from grass roots to the professional game, sends out a message that discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people is not to be tolerated.