Dialogue Online No. 2/2016: “LGBTI Rights and South Africa’s Proposed Hate Legislation”by Katherine Sutherland, 07 June 2017


The proposed hate crime and hate speech bill is a step towards combatting hate directed at vulnerable groups and ensuring alignment between practice and constitutional provisions.

South Africa was the first nation to clearly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in its constitution, the fifth to legalise same sex marriage, and a signatory of the first UN resolution affirming the rights of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people: all victories visible on the world stage. These are only a few, of many, examples of SA’s progressive LGBTI policies that have tried to improve the lives of those vulnerable to discrimination.

There has been a significant improvement in the state of LGBTI rights in SA since 1996. Nevertheless, given the history of LGBTI rights in SA, the bar from which we measure our progress is especially low. Whilst we can say that we are closer than we were in 1996 to achieving the aspirational goals of equality set out in our constitution, we cannot blind ourselves to the violent inequality that continues to pervade the lives of LGBTI persons living in SA.

In response to the high prevalence of violence and discrimination targeted at specific identity groups, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DJCD) has taken a great leap forward by drafting the Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill. The bill will allow for a judge to take prejudice, bias or intolerance into account as an aggravating factor when prosecuting a perpetrator.

Download PDF here: “LGBTI Rights and South Africa’s Proposed Hate Legislation”