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20% Of South African Gay Students Raped

(Cape Town, South Africa) A study of LGBT teens in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province has sent shockwaves throughout the country.

Focusing on young people in the municipalities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban researchers found that 20 percent of gay and bisexual teenage males and 19% of lesbian and bisexual female teens had been raped or sexually assaulted.

They also found that one third of all LGBT students had been physically assaulted at school because of their sexuality.

The study was conducted for Out LGBT Well-being and the Durban Lesbian and Gay Health and Community and Health Center.

The researchers found that black and Indian students were more likely to be victimized because of their sexuality than were white students.

"More alarming is the victimization by teachers and principals," said Pietermaritzburg Gay & Lesbian Network convener Anthony Waldhausen.

"The network will go out of its way to protect the gay and lesbian community and is looking at ways to provide hope for the many that are victimized."

The study found that homophobia was so severe in the province that many students refused health care because they did not trust medical staff.

The researchers noted that this often had the added concern that HIV transmission to the victims was not determined.

The situation in the province is so severe the researchers said in their report that almost one in five LGBT students said they had attempted suicide.

South Africa is one of the few countries in the world with equality for gays, lesbians and the transgendered enshrined in its constitution but the report noted that equality has not found its way down to the grassroots of society.

© 2006

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