South Africa is set to introduce hate crime legislation, which would protect LGBT people against hate crimes, including laws to prosecute following physical or verbal attacks.

The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Jeff Radebe, confirmed that his department had finalised a draft policy framework titled Combating Hate Crimes, Hate Speech and Unfair Discrimination.

He did so speaking at the national conference of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies at the Imagine a World Without Hate event.

South Africa has so far had no formal laws against hate speech or hate crimes against people on the basis of race, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other forms of identity.

The draft policy will be presented to the South African cabinet for approval before going to a public consultation process.

Violence against LGBT people and foreigners has escalated in the country, including “corrective rape”, against lesbians, who will be protected under the new law.

More than 170,000 people from 175 countries signed a Change.org petition prior to the decision to introduce this legislation.

“We worked so hard for this and it’s really great to see the minister finally do this,” said Ndumie Funda, who started the petition,

According to Funda, 510 women report being the victims of “corrective rape”, every year in the country, and that 31 lesbians have been murdered over ten years because of their sexual orientation.