Target: South African police
Goal: The police in Kuruman, South Africa must classify the heartless murder and mutilation of a young gay man as a hate crime.
When Thapelo Makutle, a 24-year-old gay and transgender man, got into a heated argument with two other men over his sexual preferences, they reportedly murdered him in cold blood. Those who discovered his body noticed that his tongue had been cut out and his genitals sliced off and stuffed into his mouth. Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, police officers have yet to classify this horrendous murder as a hate crime. Tell officers that the acts committed against this innocent man clearly constitute a hate crime.
According to South African-based gay and lesbian rights organizations, Makutle’s “genitalia was severed and inserted into his mouth,” and “his throat was so badly slit, and it was near decapitation.”
A June 14, 2012 Global Post article by Erin Conway-Smith described Kuruman as a small town that stands in contrast to the country’s progressive stance on LGBT issues. Same-sex marriage, for example, is legal throughout South Africa.
Despite this progress, the Post reports that gays and lesbians in tiny rural areas are often met with hatred and violence. It is there where “the threat of violence…dominates the lives of lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender men”, LEGBO Northern Cape activist Dipika Nath told Conway-Smith.
Police have yet to make any arrests in connection with Makutle’s murder, and are charged by gay rights groups with being ill-prepared to handle crimes against LGBT people. LEGBO pointed out that recently, a lesbian was killed and mutilated in a similar way in another village, and officers apparently did not conduct a comprehensive investigation into the murder.
South African police officers must take appropriate action to ensure that these types of acts against LGBT people are met with swift punishment as hate crimes. By signing the petition below, you will urge the police force to take a stand for the country’s gay and lesbian citizens.
Dear President Zuma and police force officials,
Thapelo Makutle, a 24-year-old gay and transgender man, was recently murdered and mutilated in a South African town simply for being gay. However, due to poor training and a lack of knowledge about LGBT issues, the brutal acts committed against him have not been classified as a hate crime.
Crimes against gays and lesbians in South Africa must be taken seriously by those whose job it is to protect and serve the public. LGBT people should not have to live in constant fear of threats, violence, and criminals who are not brought to justice.
It is imperative that the South African police force, especially officers sent to rural villages and towns, becomes thoroughly trained in protecting LBGT people. Please commit to taking action immediately.
[Your Name Here]