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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

August-02-00

Gays and Lesbians Tortured During South African Apartheid

In a disturbing program that sought to "cure" homosexuals by applying "aversion therapy" to suspected "deviants," the South African Defense Force (SADF) tortured, chemically castrated, and performed sex-change operations on national servicepeople during the apartheid era. According to a report by the Medical Research Council, the "aversion therapy" was created and tested by Aubrey Levine, a chief psychiatrist at Voortrekkerhoogte, a military hospital. Many of the remaining victims today are crippled and left mutilated by incomplete sex-change operations, and others are sterile as a result of the chemical castration. One victim of chemical castration committed suicide after carefully documenting the abuses perpetrated by Levine. Among other atrocities, Levine allegedly forced victims to participate in the gang rape of Angolan woman.

The SADF targeted suspected lesbians in the armed forces as well. Targeted lesbians were subjected to severe electric shocks. Trudie Gobler, an intern psychologist who was forced to watch a therapy session conducted by Levine, said that the electric shocks were so severe that the shoes of one suspected lesbian flew off. "I presume that the same strength, method and everything was given to the woman. It was traumatic. I could not believe how her body could handle it." The National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality in South Africa estimates that the number of victims of the top-secret project to be in the hundreds.

Media Resources: Daily Mail and Guardian (South Africa) (http://www


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