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Activists in the LGBTI sector are speaking out about the appalling delays and injustices in five ongoing hate crime cases.

The cases have been selected by the Love Not Hate national campaign to illustrate severe lapses in the criminal justice system, especially when it comes to LGBTI people, ahead of protests to demand immediate action by the authorities.

The five cases being highlighted include shocking incidents of rape, torture and murder of LGBTI people as well as anti-LGBTI hate speech:

1. The stabbing murder of 35-year-old openly gay music student Bobby Motlatla in Potchefstroom on 10 November 2015. (552 days of justice denied.)
2. The torture and brutal killing of 23-year-old gay man David Olyne in Ceres on 22 March 2014. (1150 days of justice denied.)
3. The stabbing to death of transwoman Phoebe Titus from Wolseley in broad daylight on 27 December 2015. (505 days of justice denied.)
4. The mutilation, rape and murder of 21-year-old lesbian matric pupil Motshidisi Pascalina Melamu in Evaton on 18 December 2015. (514 days of justice denied.)
5. The hate speech against the LGBTI community by Nhlanhla Buthelezi on behalf of the People’s Revolutionary Movement in KwaZulu-Natal in May 2016. (379 days of justice denied.)5JusticeDenied

“Not only is the criminal justice system failing these and other LGBTI victims of hate, but so too are the structures initiated by government to tackle this scourge,” says Lerato Phalakatshela, Hate Crime Manager at OUT LGBT Well-being and spokesperson for the Love Not Hate campaign.

“While we have worked with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development alongside its Task Team and Rapid Response Team for a number of years, we have now been forced to admit that these are not delivering what was expected.”

The National Task Team on Gender and Sexual Orientation-Based Violence against LGBTI Persons was announced in 2011, while the Rapid Response Team to monitor and fast track pending and reported LGBTI related cases was launched in 2014. LGBTI civil society groups now say that these units are not performing.

In the last year, of 26 cases submitted to the Task Team, just one has been successfully resolved. Of updates requested from the Rapid Response Team in September 2016 concerning 22 outstanding cases, responses to just six of the cases have been returned; and these responses can only be described as inadequate. Meetings of the teams are often delayed or do not take place, and there is still no functioning Rapid Response Team in Gauteng.

“We can no longer remain quiet about the injustices and incompetence being experienced by members of our community, one which remains beset by discrimination and violence,” says Phalakatshela.

He notes a recent report commissioned by Love Not Hate that found that 44% of surveyed LGBTI people said they had experienced discrimination in their everyday life. Alarmingly, 41% of those surveyed knew of someone who had been murdered due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

On the 30th of May, activists will picket in Hatfield in Pretoria demanding that the lives of LGBTI people be taken seriously. Members of the LGBTI community and their allies are urged to show their support by gathering at the offices of OUT LGBT Well-being (1081, Pretorius St, Hatfield) from 7:30 am.

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By Bruce J. Little

Not sure if it’s me getting older and more set in my ways, or just wishful thinking, but I am finding it so much easier to be single this time around. I know, I know… When someone goes on about how “happy” they are to be single, it’s usually a case of trying to convince others to try and convince yourself. But this time it really isn’t all that bad! In fact, it has its awesome moments. It only took me five minutes back on the “Grind” as a new singleton to see how many people in open relationships there are in Jozi alone. Plench! And I’ve come to realise that relationships and how we define them are rapidly mutating and changing to meet our needs. It’s exciting to think that I can define the boundaries of my next relationship to suit my needs as well as those of my partner. We won’t have to conform to anybody else’s standards. But I’m in no rush for that to happen because my current singular status has its benefits. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being someone’s boyfriend. I loved the nesting and cuddling and Netflix and chilling, but I’m also really enjoying being able to watch whatever I feel like watching now. I have a lot of freedom at the moment and can do whatever I feel like whenever I feel like doing it, and it’s quite rad. Being a considerate person, I find myself regularly considering the person I am in a relationship with. But at present I can be selfish and consider myself. I’m taking it easy and it’s great. I’m taking care of myself, working on improving and building myself up. I’m giving myself TLC and I’ve come to realise that it’s something that I do very well. I’ve always known that I have a lot of love to give, and now I’m enjoying reflecting some of that good stuff back at myself.Leathercouch

There are so many options open to me. I can go on dates, or I can stay at home in my PJs watching series and eating almond butter out of the jar, if that’s what I want to do. Because I like to keep having options, I always ensure that I have condoms and water-based lube somewhere on hand or in my car’s cubbyhole, just in case “summin summin” should come up. I also make sure I replace them regularly and don’t let them expire. I’m not really big on one-night-stands anymore. I can be as frigid as a Friar or represent the “hoe is life” philosophy and embrace “Hoeism” if taken by the spirit at a later stage, and what’s more? I can change these states of mind from day to day as it suits me.

If I eventually do start to lean more towards the “Hoeism” side of the spectrum I could also consider the possibility of going on PrEP. I have choices. I have a lot of power to decide these things for myself and it feels good being able to exercise these choices. No man is an island, but at this stage of my journey I am finding that being just one is a load of fun.

Bruce J. Little is a contributing writer for Anova Health Institute. These are his views, which may or may not reflect those of Anova and its affiliates.

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By Bruce J. Little

We sat around the pool chatting and laughing about stuff we’d gotten up to over the weekend.  We loved to do this; get together and compare dating war stories, and this always left us both wheezing from too much cackling and not enough breathing.  I was still mid the descending voiced sigh that usually ends a long spell of laughter when he said:  "I need to tell you something."h4mlogo

The news left me completely stunned with absolutely no idea what to say.  This is a guy that I could usually tell anything to, a person that shared my un-PC sense of humour and also loved to play in the realms of the inappropriate.  He and I sang Gaga together and flirted outrageously with petrol attendants. But I knew that what he had said was not meant to be funny. 

He wasn’t the first person I knew that was HIV-positive, but he was the first person that I knew well, and the last person I thought would ever acquire it. My first lesson, HIV is indiscriminate.

I said so many tactless things, and looking back I admire how well he coped with some of the stupid things I said and asked.  Knowing that I can't go back and change how I reacted then, at least, I can now help people to know what they should say if they ever find themselves in the same situation.

My first big mistake:  I got all formal and not like myself.  Because I felt unsure of what to say, I suddenly started to edit myself and to speak in a way that wasn't authentic. I must’ve sounded like a call centre agent from a complaints hotline. He picked it up immediately. Authenticity is the best first response.  "I'm sorry to hear that", wasn't the wrong thing to say so much as it wasn't the kind of thing I would usually say to him.  It was the kind of stuff you say to an acquaintance or disgruntled customer. I should have sworn out loud and grabbed and hugged him; that would've been more me.   What you say is not as important as the way that you say it.     

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Isolation and loneliness are hazardous to your health. Studies show that depression caused by feelings of alienation and isolation can be as harmful to your health as obesity, or chugging half a pack of cigarettes a day!

Health4Men is currently running a campaign encouraging men who have sex with men to go and get tested for HIV with a close friend, for support. It’s based on the premise that we are braver when we do things together. But this is not just a great strategy for how to deal with the anxiety you may have about your HIV status; it’s also a good strategy when it comes to your mental health too. Here are a few points to ponder that will help you to reach out and connect with someone if you need to, for your good mental health:NoBullies

• Everybody hurts some times. Feeling lonely is very common, and almost everyone will experience it from time to time. Things happen in our childhood that makes us feel abandoned for some or other reason, and then, when we get older, something random can trigger a memory of this feeling of abandonment, and so we become overwhelmed with a feeling of isolation or aloneness. It’s important to remember at these times that loneliness is often just a feeling and not a fact. You may feel lonely, but in truth, there are probably many people who would love the opportunity to connect with you, given the opportunity.

• Connecting with other people is the best way to deal with stress, anxiety and depression. The reason that group therapy has such a great success rate is that we all respond much better to treatment or challenges when we feel that we are “all in this together”. Being part of a collective reminds us that we are in fact not alone, which is something that depression and reclusive behaviour can allow us to start to believe is true. Joining a yoga group or a hiking society can make a world of difference to your outlook on life.

• Get over yourself. Obsessing over your life and how you feel about it can actually aggravate feelings of alienation and despair. Try to focus on others for a while and see things from their perspective. You may become inspired by how bravely other people are battling their fears and personal demons. Compassion is a strange thing, when we have compassion for others, it causes others to start treating us in a similar way, and nothing can connect two souls better than cars of compassion running on a two-way street. Kindness is the same. Relationships and marriages that work for many years have been founded on good habits of treating one another with kindness.

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The Anova Health Institute welcomes the move by the Medicines Control Council (MCC) after they officially registered the use of a combination of two antiretroviral drugs as a form of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication. This pill, taken daily by the HIV negative individuals, can drastically reduce HIV infection.

Prof James McIntyre, CEO of Anova, says: “This is a major advance in HIV prevention in South Africa, with the potential to save many lives. The evidence is clear, PrEP works if you take it. Not everyone will need or want PrEP, or require it forever, but it can provide almost complete protection against infection if taken consistently. Our challenge is to educate users and move rapidly to ensure access for those who need it.”h4mlogo

Dr Kevin Rebe, Specialist Medical Consultant at Anova’s Health4Men Initiative, says: “The approval of PrEP is a major step forward in the fight against HIV. It is extremely effective and safe to use. It can reduce the risk of HIV by more than 90% in HIV negative people who use it correctly. This announcement will greatly facilitate the work that Anova conducts in HIV prevention. Our challenge now is to create demand for PrEP and to work towards removing barriers to access.”

Anova, in collaboration with the Desmond Tutu HIV Research Unit, already has a PrEP demonstration project underway within state sector clinics. Anova is working to develop tools that will allow PrEP to be nurse-driven and scaled up by the Department of Health.

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