I was impressed by two stories this week. I know, it is only Tuesday, but I am already beginning to think it will take something pretty extraordinary to top the past few days, at least for me - and at least, in the field of human rights in South Africa. The first one I am going to mention is the publicized signing of a memorandum against homophobic hatred caused by religious fundamentalism and the patriarchy - signed by some well-known religious figures in Cape Town. Yes, this is good news - and it certainly shows that not all Christians are out to prove the right wing claim that to be a Christian is to be a fundamentalist fanatic with homicidal anti-gay tendencies. But then again, I could be wrong. The tiler working in my bathroom some time ago told me in confidence, that he "hates things what is skew", but he could have been referring to the tiles.
This brings me to the second item, about a lady by the name of Liana Munnik, who was brutally assaulted - so badly that she ended up in hospital. The reason? Because she is gay. Her assailant? A married woman who kicked her repeatedly between her legs until she lost consciousness, and was unable to defend herself or walk away - a woman who screamed homophobic abuse at her - among other things, that she was "an abomination in the eyes of God", "going to hell" and that she was going to "kick her straight". The woman's husband reportedly prevented her friend from intervening, by throwing her to the ground and holding her down with his knee on her neck. See the newspaper reports: ‘I will kick you straight’ and 'Lesbian kicked to 'convert' her'.
Supporters of Liana Munnik have set up a Facebook group to show her support and solidarity for what she has been through as a victim of homophobic abuse, and for the court case which is currently pending.
According to the one article, Liana was attacked by a "God-fearing woman", who was a fellow member of her church - by kicking her repeatedly between her legs "in the name of the Lord" because she is gay. According to the article, the woman also told her "I will kick your cunt straight for you, because the Lord made it so that a man and a woman can have sex and bring a child into the world." Yes, I can see the Christianity shining through, can you? Yes folks, this is the "Christian" thing to do. It sounds more like something out of the Jerry Springer show to me. As a friend of mine used to say: "That'll learn 'em".
Fortunately it seems that the argument was recorded. Damn, I knew there was a reason why mobile phones were so useful. Unfortunately this is a civil case, not a criminal case, which is a pity - it should include a case of assault with intent.
The civil lawsuit has also been directed at her husband, because he allegedly "actively obstructed people from intervening in the assault on Ms Munnik", and pinned one of her friends to the ground by leaning on her throat with his knee. Wow this is a real stand-up guy, kneeling on some poor woman's neck to defend his wife.
Ms Munnik is suing for compensation for medical costs, loss of income for shock, and pain and suffering. She is also claiming compensation for alleged hate speech and defamation of character. The De Beers own a house in a wealthy suburb of Pretoria, and live in another in Mokopane, so I somehow doubt that coughing up will be too much of a problem for them.
The attackers are opposing the lawsuit (excuse me while I feign surprise) - with the husband claiming that Mrs De Beer was "being attacked by three lesbians" and that she was forced to defend herself by kicking Munnik between the legs until she was left unconscious and had to be taken away in an ambulance. If this defense stands up in court, it could lead to a variation of the "gay-panic defense" - being called something along the lines of the "scary-lesbian defense". Next thing you know, Ms De Beer will be claiming that "Oops, my foot slipped." Yes, I imagine being confronted by "an abomination in the eyes of the Lord" would be pretty scary, in fact I regularly get a fright from my own reflection in the mirror, especially in the morning, after a heavy night of debauchery and sin. Of course, the heroic Mr De Beer had to pin one aggressive, rampaging lesbian down to defend his poor helpless wife, who was busy kicking the shit out of Ms Munnik at the time. Think it will fly? I hope not. But in this country of ours who can tell?
As an example of how pro human rights our country is these days, the South African Human Rights Commission recently said it is perfectly acceptable to use the word "gay" in a sense to mean "stupid", and they see nothing at all offensive in it - so why shouldn't the courts say it is perfectly okay to try and kick a gay woman straight? I mean, "ex-gay therapy" doesn't work, so why not try something new, like "Kicking somebody straight"?
That is pretty interesting logic, you have to admit. I wonder if we kicked Ms De Beer hard enough and for long enough, if she would turn lesbian? I might be keen to find out, and curious enough to see how long my steel caps would hold out - but at least I am gifted with enough intelligence to know a lost cause when I see one.
Of course, just because she was recorded verbally abusing Ms Munnik with homophobic slurs while she was kicking her between the legs to make her straight, doesn't make it hate speech or a hate crime, does it? And just because Ms Munnik is human, it doesn't necessarily mean she is straight enough to qualify for the same human rights as fundamentalist Christians.