A landmark case was decided in South Africa today when four men were sentenced to 18 years in prison for murdering a woman who lived openly as a lesbian, according to MSNBC.
Nineteen-year-old Zoliswa Nkonyana was stabbed and stoned to death over six years ago by nine men. Five of them were acquitted, and four-Mbulelo Dama, Lubabalo Ntlabathi, Sicelo Mase and Luyanda Londzi,- who were juveniles when the murder happened, were convicted last year.
In the article, Marlow Newman-Valentine, deputy director of Triangle Project, said “it is the first case in South Africa where sexual orientation and identity was named and recognized as an aggravating factor in a murder trial.”
According to the article, “South Africa’s constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual preference but homophobia is rife in the country. In addition, the country’s female homicide rate six times the world average, according to a June-2011 study in The British Journal of Criminology.”
This is a huge milestone for post-apartheid South Africa, and I am happy strides have been made to eradicate the discrimination against LGBT people. However, the fight is not over; there is a long way to go.
It is not only South Africa that has a long way to go, but the world. Around the world LGBT are persecuted for being themselves, and this needs to end.
Governments need to take a stand because it is not enough to just implement laws. Laws need to be enforced and actions need to be taken in order to change the hearts and minds of people.
So, while I congratulate South Africa for this milestone, I also want to caution them because the battle has just begun.