"Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians": Homophobic hate crimes, the state and civil society
This article describes some of the shortcomings in the prosecution of a homophobic hate crime as well as a non-governmental organisation’s attempt to influence the sentencing of the perpetrators. The fact that an NGO believed it was necessary to intervene in a criminal case, was allowed to lead evidence, demonstrated the harmful effects of homophobic hate crimes and made arguments that these effects should be used in aggravation of sentence, suggests that NGOs may take on a new proactive roll in the prosecution of crimes involving some forms of prejudice. The NGO was unsuccessful in that the magistrate ultimately passed a lenient sentence, in the form of correctional supervision. The sentence included a condition that the perpetrators participate in ‘awareness programmes of gays and lesbians’, conducted by civil society rather than the state. In so doing, the court missed an opportunity to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights of gays and lesbians.
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