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Homophobic rape should be a hate crime, demands football group

International LGBT group Football v. Homophobia has started a new campaign against gender-based violence in South Africa
Anton Hysen, openly gay Swedish footballer, lends his support to Football v. Homophobia with a video message.

Football v. Homophobia, an LGBT advocacy group, is raising awareness of hate crimes in sports with a new campaign.

As part of the One Billion Rising movement, an initiative to stop violence against women, Football v. Homophobia has started a new campaign demanding the South African government recognize homophobic rape as a hate crime punishable by law.

Keph Senett from the Football v. Homophobia campaign said: 'The situation in South Africa is critical, and there is no excuse for this delay in response. People know about the problem.'

Though South Africa's Department of Justice assigned a task force in 2011 to address LGBT hate crimes, homophobic rape is still not classified as a hate crime.

Football v. Homophobia has released an info-graphic of documented cases of homophobic violence against LGBT people in South Africa since 2001 and as recently as last November. These include several women footballers and activists who were attacked and killed for being lesbian.

Eudy Simelane, the first woman to live openly as a lesbian in her home-town of KwaThema, was gang raped, beaten and stabbed more than 25 times at the age of 31. She died on 28 April 2008.

Also from KwaThema, Noxolr Nogwaza was found dead on April 24 2011 after she was raped, beaten and stabbed to death. Her body was found in a drainage ditch.

19 year-old Sihle Sikoji of Kamva, Western Cape was stabbed to death for being a lesbian. She died on 9 November 2012.

As part of their campaign against gender-based violence, Football v. Homophobia urges people to sign the Amnesty International petition demanding justice for Noxolo Nogwaza, which urges the Gauteng Provincial Police Commissioner to take immediate action to investigate her murder. 

The group estimates that since 2001, at least 40 women, 16 of them professional footballers playing in South African teams, have been victims of homophobic rape or murder in South Africa. Football v. Homophobia says estimates are difficult to make since not all attack survivors will report the incidents to the police, and sometimes the police won't record the attack as a hate crime.

Homophobia and hate crimes in sports have hit the international spotlight recently with more professional players coming out of the closet as gay men and lesbians. Just yesterday, 25 year-old US soccer star Robbie Rogers announced on his blog that he is gay and plans to quit soccer.
 

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