On April 22, Them, an online publication, reported that four gay men had been murdered in South Africa in less than a month. The disturbing report made national headlines after a local government official, the spokesperson for the Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Castro Ngobese, shared a link to the story on Twitter alongside a fist emoji and the caption “Aluta Continua” (the struggle continues).

LGBTQ activists and allies in South Africa immediately condemned the tweet celebrating hate crimes, and the opposition Democratic Alliance Party called for Ngobese’s suspension. Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile, meanwhile, released a statement on April 23 promising to “address the matter” of the “unfortunate and inappropriate Tweet”.

Ngobese’s tweet received nationwide attention not only because it revealed a government official’s unapologetic homophobia, but also because it was emblematic of the widespread and stubborn resistance to the establishment of LGBTQ rights in South Africa.

South Africa’s constitution prohibits unfair discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and guarantees equality for gay and lesbian people. Same-sex marriages are legal and transgender people can change their sex description and gender marker in the national birth register. Nevertheless, the LGBTQ community has long been subjected to hate speech, discrimination, and grotesque violence in the country. Moreover, many South Africans still perceive LGBTQ individuals as inherently immoral and “un-African”, and thus pay little attention to the abuse they endure on a daily basis in the country.

It is time for South Africa to respond decisively to this growing problem by adopting preventive measures against homophobic hate speech and hate crimes.

Read the full article about LGBTQIA+ communities in South Africa by Tafi Mhaka at Al Jazeera.