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Q: Ever Wonder What Anti-Gay Rhetoric Leads To? A: “Corrective” Rape

posted by Paul Raushenbush

“Corrective” rape is on the rise in South Africa.  For those of you who are not familiar with the term (like me until today) “corrective” rape is when men gang rape lesbians in order for them to become straight.   Watch this heart rendering video of women talking about their stories.

The Guardian talked to lesbian women in townships in Johannesburg and Cape Town who said they were being deliberately targeted for rape and that the threat of violence had become an everyday ordeal.


“Every day I am told that they are going to kill me, that they are going to rape me and after they rape me I’ll become a girl,” said Zakhe Sowello from Soweto, Johannesburg. “When you are raped you have a lot of evidence on your body. But when we try and report these crimes nothing happens, and then you see the boys who raped you walking free on the street.”


Research released last year by Triangle, a leading South African gay rights organisation, revealed that a staggering 86% of black lesbians from the Western Cape said they lived in fear of sexual assault. The group says it is dealing with up to 10 new cases of “corrective rape” every week.


When will people stop treating gay and lesbian people like dirt and assuming that for gay and lesbians to be full people they have to be corrected?   This practice is only the logical and brutal conclusion that all those who promote hatred against gay people – including those on the religious right in America who enroll their children in ex-gay camps and preach anti-gay rhetoric from their pulpits.  J’accuse. 



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Ben

posted March 14, 2009 at 10:22 am


So believing that homosexual behavior is wrong and that transformation in Christ is available to people so they can step out of that sin leads to gang rape? That is a really sick and disgusting thing to say.



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Your Name

posted March 14, 2009 at 10:27 am


First of all, let me say that this “corrective” rape is a horrible practice, just horrible. It is a blatant disregard for human rights. I will pray that they stop this detestable practice. However, I am offended that this practice is in any way compared to preaching against the gay lifestyle. Preachers have every right to preach against homosexuality. It is in line with the Word of God. I agree that the lifestyle is not pleasing to God. Preaching against being gay does NOT equal hatred. How come when preacher say coveting or stealing is wrong, the person who covets or steals does not think they are hated? We have to stop associating the preaching of the Gospel with the extremist behaviors some decide to foolishly partake in. In fact, I don’t consider the people who rape these young women Christian, because their behavior is wrong.



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LutheranChik

posted March 14, 2009 at 10:37 am


Speaking as a gay, partnered Lutheran involved in lay ministry (an idea that I’m sure will set the teeth of the first two respondents on edge) — thank you for posting this horrible example of homophobia in action. And, previous comments to the contrary (I’ll overlook having my character and my relationship with my partner — a good gift of God — being compared to thievery and covetousness) — the constant drumbeat in some churches that sends the message not only that homosexuality is a “sin” but that being anti-gay is the end-all and be-all of Christian sexual ethics and self-identification as a “Bible-believin'” Christian is certainly a factor in hate crimes against gays and lesbians.



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Your Name

posted March 14, 2009 at 11:11 am


To my dear responders…
“thank you for posting this horrible example of homophobia in action.”
Me saying I disagree with being gay is akin to the guys who rape these young women? You have got to be kidding. I already said how I felt about that. I’m not responsible for the atrocious behaviors that were committed. You guys act like this stuff is new.
I am not scared of gays or the gay lifestyle, I just don’t agree that it is right and I have the right to believe that, just like you have the right to live it. The belief that it is wrong and the extreme behavior to try to “stop” it DO NOT match. You’ll never catch me condoning any behavior like what was described in the article, in fact I’m against it. Rarely are things black and white or so clearly defined as you have implied by lumping together all ppl who disagree with you.
“And, previous comments to the contrary (I’ll overlook having my character and my relationship with my partner — a good gift of God — being compared to thievery and covetousness”
You are certainly smart enough to understand that my comparision was not an insult to you, or your partner, but rather based on my belief that biblically, I believe homosexuality is wrong. I don’t know you, so it isn’t personal. If you felt something was wrong, you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) be hesitant to speak your mind AND you shouldn’t think that based on what you said, others will go and beat or rape ppl who fit that description.
By the way, I’ve said what I have to say, and I don’t think anyone doesn’t get what I’m saying, I think that ppl are just determined to put all those who disagree with homosexuality together. So, all the comments responding from now on to mine, please don’t expect a response. God Bless you, and I really do mean that. ;)



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James Gilmore

posted March 14, 2009 at 11:21 am


Thanks for pointing out the violence that anti-gay rhetoric leads to. While this is odious, this is only one aspect of this planet’s unfortunate and continuing pandemic of anti-gay violence – from corrective rape in South Africa, to the stoning of lesbian and gay individuals in many places in the Middle East, to gay-bashing and “ex-gay” therapies in the United States. And don’t even get started on the myriad and continual physical and emotional abuse undergone by transpeople on a daily basis.
To those of you who are opposed to LGBT people on Biblical grounds (putting aside, of course, the obvious question of exactly how you can directly map thousands-of-year-old prohibitions based in the power-based sexual mores of the time to our present and much more accurate understanding of the biological and cultural underpinnings of homosexuality) and yet who claim to be disgusted by this practice: Where’s the action? These people are your fellow-travelers. They think of LGBT individuals the same way you do, as people who need to be changed. Where’s the action? Where are your demands of your denominational or church mission boards to stop funding any South African church or mission organization that doesn’t immediately condemn and take action to stop their congregants from engaging in these vile practices and pressure the government to take hate crimes more seriously?
We who have the right stance on homosexuality – that there is nothing in the Bible that can condemn contemporary LGBT individuals – don’t have any cognitive dissonance here. We can see quite clearly that the kind of violent anti-gay rhetoric used by people like Utah State Senator Chris Buttars or the American “Family” Association or Focus on the “Family” leads to things like gay-bashing, like abusive reparative therapies for lesbians and gay men, and like “corrective rape” in South Africa.
But anti-gay Christians have a responsibility here. If you want to say that your anti-gay rhetoric doesn’t lead to this, prove it by doing what you can to stop this practice in South Africa. If you say that your anti-gay rhetoric isn’t violent, prove it by investigating and shutting down abusive anti-gay “reparative” therapies here in the U.S., and by working in your community to stop instances of gay-bashing and anti-gay violence. Time to put your money where your mouth is. If you’re seriously going to claim that the shockwaves of hate that your charlatan leaders have been spewing forth against LGBT individuals with your support and money doesn’t lead to violence, you’re going to have to be much, much more serious about stopping anti-gay violence.



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Mason Colbert

posted March 14, 2009 at 11:44 am


“Corrective” rape is a completely terrible thing. There is nothing wrong with bi- or homosexual people. This Corrective rape, I feel, is worse than any other form of rape imaginable. I believe that rapists deserve no ounce of pity nor mercy and should suffer from the fullest extent of the law.
This practice is wrong and immoral. It is just as bad as a group of religious extremists holding you down and baptizing you stating they’re not doing it in anger, but rather to save your soul. These rapists and extremists should face life imprisonment. Those rapists have no value whatsoever and would be better off outside of the society.



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RJohnson

posted March 14, 2009 at 1:24 pm


What troubles me is the “but” that always seems to accompany such condemnations of these actions.
“Corrective rape is terrible BUT…”
“Murdering liberal church-goers is terrible BUT…”
The implication is that if the victims here had not been lesbians, or if the people at that church in Tennessee had not been supportive of gay rights, they would not have been targets in the first place.
It would be like saying “killing missionaries is terrible BUT…”. There does not need to be any qualification to our condemnation of such actions.
Rape is terrible PERIOD.
Murder is terrible PERIOD.
Why must people (in this case, Christians) qualify their condemnation with what is simply a thinly disguised “blame the victim” follow-up?



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Tom

posted March 14, 2009 at 2:38 pm


Are you folks actually dim-witted enough to believe these perps TRULY thought they were going to make these poor women straight? And what about STRAIGHT women from the Western Cape? I’m sure they never worry about forced entry do they? Triangle conveniently left those statistics out; therefore no comparative analysis could be made nor any frame of reference used.
If people continue to use these flimsy arguments and make connections that in all probability don’t exist, they’ll undermine their own causes and lose what little credibility if any they had in the eyes of contemporary society.
Whether anti-gay therapies are destructive or not is debatable. Maybe no one ever gets permanently cured from alcoholism or substance abuse of any kind (they still have reoccuring urges). Does that mean these programs are destructive, even though studies link alcoholism largely to genetic predisposition?



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panthera

posted March 14, 2009 at 3:34 pm


Tom,
was your question regarding the destructive results of conversion therapy meant rhetorically or do you really want an answer?



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Albert the Abstainer

posted March 14, 2009 at 3:36 pm


But Tom, being gay is not a disorder. It is not harmful in itself to the person who is gay or to anyone else. What is harmful is propagation of hate, prejudice and fear. Yes, fewer are those in North American society who will take their problem with gays to the point of causing overt harm, and this is to be applauded. However, there remain a significant portion of the populace who encourage and support an anti-gay rhetoric which is contributory to anti-gay violence. As being gay becomes normalized within society, the Biblical prohibitions against it will be seen as antediluvian and not worth anymore consideration than certain dietary prohibitions. In the interests of actually promoting emulation of Christian brotherhood, the church and its membership should strive to align itself with the example of Jesus, who would sup with the outcasts of his society, offering them an acceptance which they did not find in their indigenous society.



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Susanna's Daughter

posted March 14, 2009 at 5:18 pm


How dare some of you try to downplay this poor woman’s experience by asking for rape statistics on “straight” women!
Violence against women, lesbian or straight, is outrageous, period. Sexual violence against women is outrageous, period, because sexual violence isn’t about sex, it’s about power.
And before all you nay-saying men jump on me for that statement, let me add that I know this from personal experience. I am a rape survivor. Christian though I am, if another man ever tries to rape me again, or tries to rape another woman in my presence, I’ll kill the bastard.



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LutheranChik

posted March 14, 2009 at 5:45 pm


Tom: I don’t believe that I am, to use your term, dim-witted. Neither am I, as you imply, suffering from a disorder.
No, I don’t believe that the perpetrators in these instances were genuinely interested in “correcting” their victims’ sexuality. I do believe they were trying to “teach them a lesson.” Which is also, I suppose, what fundamentalists are trying to do to me when they compare my partner and me to pedophiles or animal-buggerers and otherwise slander our character, our shared Christian faith and the sanctity of our relationship.



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Tom

posted March 14, 2009 at 6:26 pm


Destiny’s Child, I wasn’t asking anything about ‘rape statistics’. The actual contention of Triangle was that so many lesbian women (86%)were worried about rape because of these ‘conversion rapes’. Maybe Western Cape is a dangerous place for a black woman (straight or gay) to live, period. Also, I’d prefer if pollsters were objective and lacking any kind of agenda, something a gay rights organization would be prone to.
Am truly sorry for what happened to you; yet please don’t jump to conclusions that aren’t true.
Clearly some gays view their condition as a shortcoming, otherwise they wouldn’t be attempting to live a straight lifestyle. That or they’re succumbing to social pressures. I can see showing affection through the wrong orifice (probably way more painful than hetero-conjugal love) as a setback, as well as lack of conjugation in a female-female relationship somewhat unfullfilling. Granted to a certain extent it’s none of my business who one chooses to ‘love’ so I’ll leave it at that. Just hope many of you realize that not all conservative Christians are fundamentalists, nor do we necessarily have anything against LGBTs. Anti-gay rhetoric is very counterproductive in our or anyone else’s society. On that we can agree.
Actually, Panthera, I’d be very interested in your perspective on conversion therapy. Do you think it’s impossible for ANYONE to live a healthy straight life (marriage, children, etc) after being gay? Just overall does more good than harm? This and anything else you wish to add on the topic would be welcome.
Thank you :-)



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LutheranChik

posted March 14, 2009 at 8:04 pm


Tom: How much time do you spend speculating on the physical mechanics of other people’s sex lives? I for one would appreciate it if you didn’t spend any time thinking about mine. Believe me, I don’t think about yours.



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Tom

posted March 14, 2009 at 8:20 pm


I’m not sure, though some people who were formerly gay claim to be ‘reformed’ so if I had to guess then yes I think that would be possible. Don’t know of anyone who deliberately attempted to go from straight to gay, so I do speak from a position of profound ignorance (just set one up for any of you who feal compelled to knock it down :-)
Lutheran, I haven’t the faintest clue what your (or your significant other’s) physical makeup consists of, so how could I possibly spend ANY time thinking about the physical mechanics of your sex life? I’m allowed to reply to other poster’s claims about no downfalls to homosexuality, am I not? Thank you for expressing your concern, as you have my unquestionable reassurance.



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Husband

posted March 15, 2009 at 5:46 pm


Tom,
“way more painful than hetero-conjugal love”
So much ignorance, where to begin?
1. Tom, the vast majority of people who engage in anal sex (the words you can’t even type) are heterosexual.
2. Is it the “wrong” orifice for them too?
3. Many homosexuals do not participate in it at all. Are you against anal sex only for homosexuals (even though it lacks this “conjugation” thing you tout when heterosexuals do it)?
And 4., regardless of orientation, if you do it right, it isn’t/shouldn’t be painful.
5. Nor do we consider it a “setback”, or a “shortcoming” to be gay.
6. How come it’s “the gay lifestyle” but it’s “ais “none of [your] business who one chooses to love”, but no smarmy quote marks are necessary on the word love, thanx.
9. “Anti-gay rhetoric is very counterproductive in our or anyone else’s society. On that we can agree.”
If you “agree”, you could stop engaging in it yourself first of all.
10. You’ve posted a hypothetical question when you ask, “Do you think it’s impossible for ANYONE to live a healthy straight life (marriage, children, etc) after being gay?”, since there’s no such thing as “after being gay”. One either is or is not attracted to others of the same sex. One doesn’t ‘decide’ it. I could refer you to a few people who have undergone electro-convulsive “therapy” who might be able to explain why it doesn’t work; all I know is that it doesn’t. (Nor does prayer, apparently.) If coursing our genitals with electricity doesn’t “change” us, I doubt rape will.
P.S. to “Your Name” – saying you “disagree with being gay” is like saying you “disagree” with someone being left-handed.



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panthera

posted March 15, 2009 at 7:26 pm


Tom,
I do apologize – I’m on a different clock than you and was just signing off when I noticed you had posted.
Yes, I can provide you with some data on the failure rate and, far worse, damage such ‘therapies’ cause. It will have to wait ’till the morn, though.
For starters now, however, they are not considered valid by even one single non-fundamentalist Christian medical organization (including the APA, APPA, etc.) That alone speaks volumes. When there are no non-conservative Christians, none, in the medical professions willing to do this, that is a pretty clear statement.
It has already been mentioned here, but, again, medicine abandoned the position that homosexuality is either a defect or mutable back in the 1970’s. You don’t ‘get over’ being gay any more than a straight person can become gay. Try thinking of it this way, how much would it take to motivate you to have sex with another man? Not for $1,000,000? Two? Nope, you’d have to be presented with some sort of seventh ring of He11 to do it, like either have gay sex or your child will die.
And that is what it would take to get me to have sex with a woman –
It is not a choice.
Given the persecution we suffer in the USA, why would anyone chose to be different in this way? Another consideration.
I am a concerned that you focus only on sex. My love for my husband has a sexual component, and yes, we have a monogamous relationship (over 24 years together now). But that is only one aspect of our love and devotion. He has changed jobs, cultures and countries to help me care for family members in an emergency. If that isn’t being faithful, what is?
As for the sex, well, Husband put it well, but I’ll add one more comment. A sensuous kiss is enormously more intimate than intercourse, either anal or vaginal (at least women tell me this last, I wouldn’t know personally), so the lack of or ‘extra’ presence of certain sexual organs is absolutely not an issue in making love to someone of one’s own sex. Or, to get personal again, is the only thing you have to offer your wife 2 minutes of intercourse during those three days/month when she might conceive, then you smoke a cigarette (maybe even share it and then ask her to bring you a beer while you role over and turn on the football game?) Or is there any sense of love less fulfilling than the first time you hold the fruit of your love, a baby in your arms? Bet you love your wife enormously in that moment, even tho’ sex is the furthest from your mind.
Hope my frankness does not anger you, but this is a rather free thread.
Oh, just in general, violence happens to men and women, rape to men and women, Matthew was not the first nor, sadly the last. Violence is unconscionable, period.



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panthera

posted March 16, 2009 at 1:13 pm


Tom,
Here’s a partial list on the consequences of these programs.
First, tho’, when I said no non-fundamentalist Christian group supports this, I meant here. Here is a list of just the American groups which oppose it, absolutely and unconditionally:
* American Psychiatric Association
* American Psychological Association
* American Medical Association
* American Academy of Pediatrics,
* American Association of School Administrators
* American Federation of Teachers
* The Interfaith Alliance Foundation
* National Academy of Social Workers
* National Education Association
* American Counseling Association
* World Health Organization (OK, they aren’t strictly just American)
* Council on Child and Adolescent Health
Jim, there are quite a few sources (many from the above organizations) which go into the damage these programs do. Many suicides have been directly traced to them.
The website I have referenced in the URL is one of many jumping off points to pursue this.
Do please take a look and if you have questions, we can go one at great length.
Ultimately, the most anyone has ever achieved was to destroy a person’s ability to establish loving relationships to anyone, by the way – that is doable, but if that is what fundamentalist Christians feel is God’s wish for us, then I suspect they are way off course. Although, after all the hatred and spite I have read here and on other blogs on Beliefnet from these conservative Christians, it would not surprise me.
As soon as I have time (anyone else who has it can do it first!), I’ll post some of the links to anatomical studies which conclusively show that being gay is not a choice, but a biological fact, like eye or hair color.



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diana

posted March 18, 2009 at 10:40 am


That is the risk you take if you choose this road



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Your Name

posted March 18, 2009 at 4:21 pm


Who ‘chose’ what “road”, Diana?



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aaron

posted March 19, 2009 at 1:45 pm


We who have the right stance on homosexuality – that there is nothing in the Bible that can condemn contemporary LGBT individuals-
Of course it’s the right stance, it’s so self-evident and all…



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Spiritual Freedom

posted May 19, 2009 at 5:15 am


The Bible does in fact condemn Homosexuality-Romans 1:20-32, I Corinthians 6:9-11 (there are more passages). The Bible does not speak about whether a person is born gay or not. I personally believe that people are born with that tendency. However, acting on that desire is a sin to God who created each and every one of us flat out. Just because we have certain desires does not mean that we should act on them. A married man, for instance, might have the desire to sleep with a woman other than his wife or vice-a-versa. Those are certainly natural desires that man has, but it is still sin. If you took the time to look up the I Corinthians 6 passage. I stated at the beginning, you will notice that it says at the end of verse 10 that some of the beleivers were homosexual, but they were washed, they were sanctified, and were justified in Jesus Christ. John 8:32 says that Jesus’ words are true, and that if you listen to His words (truth) they (it) will set you free. Electricity will not fix a homosexuals problem anymore than it will fix a married man in an unhappy relationship to stay faithful, both need God to wash them from their sin.



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