South Africa’s Police Inspectorate has promised “decisive action” against officers who ridicule gay people or ignore homophobic hate crimes.

Last week human rights groups and gay activists launched the 07-07-07 Campaign.

On that day last year two lesbian women, 34 year old Sizakele Sigasa and 23 year old Salome Masooa, were raped, tortured and killed in Meadowlands, Soweto.

Their hands were tied up using their underwear and their tied ankles using their shoelaces.

Both had been shot several times. On February 4th 2006 lesbian Zoliswa Nonkonyane was murdered by a mob of 20 men.

None of these cases have been solved.

Gay rights group Triangle Project claimed police ignore reports from gay and lesbians that they had been assaulted or raped because of their sexual orientation and some health workers had refused to help lesbians who had been raped.

“Thirteen years into our democracy and our progressive constitution, which includes the protection of the human rights of LGBTI persons, we find ourselves still marching for freedom,” the group said in a statement launching the 07-07-07 Campaign.

“Our black sisters in townships and rural communities are continued targets of corrective rape; verbal, sexual and physical abuse; plagued by violence and trapped by the collective oppressions of sexism, homophobia, hetero-normative values and patriarchal structures.

“Black lesbians and effeminate men are humiliated and publicly shamed resulting in their brutal and violent deaths which are ignored by local authorities and national leadership.

“We call upon our police services to demonstrate their commitment to ensuring the safety of LGBTI persons and to take concrete and visible action towards the elimination of all forms of hate crime and gender-based violence.”

Police spokesperson Selby Bokaba said that any homophobic behaviour by police officers was regrettable.

“It goes against the ethos of the organisation.”