Transgender Pageant Winner Murdered in South Africa
Young activist killed, mutilated after argument about sexuality
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2012 11:32 AM CDT
Thapelo Makhutle, 24, was a gay activist in the Northern Cape region.   (Frontline Defenders)

(Newser) – The horrific murder of a young man in South Africa has left gay activists in the Northern Cape region living in fear. Thapelo Makhutle, 24, a gay man who had recently begun identifying as transgender and who won the local Miss Gay pageant, was found murdered at home with his head nearly severed and his genitals cut off, reports ABC. He had been seen earlier arguing with two men about his sexuality. Activists want the killing to be investigated as a hate crime.

"This has a very negative impact on the gay community here. Many live in fear and are afraid for their security. Now it is worse," says the director of a gay rights advocacy group where Makhutle volunteered. His friend, he says, was "openly gay. He was proud of who he was and believed that freedom in South Africa was attainable." South Africa is the only African country to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, but gays and lesbians are often victims of discrimination and violence, especially in rural areas.

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