Remember: This is about Anni’s murder
Some of the public and private commentary about the Shrien Dewani murder trial feels like it could be playing out two decades ago, when subtle – and not-so-subtle – homophobia was rampant.
Suppressed homophobia was given a licence to come out of the shadows. Here and abroad, many gleefully revelled in the old spectre of gays as perverted child molesters.
Would there have been this level of moral outrage and genital panic if Dewani was on Tinder, not Gaydar? If he slept with dominatrices not “sadists”?
On the face of the evidence, Dewani may be selfish, closeted, cruel and bloody-minded. You get good gays and bad gays, good straights and bad straights. But in a conservative heteronormative world, bad gays are bad twice.
The fact that he reportedly chose a moderate dating site to live out his dual life with like-minded, consenting adults is ignored.
Instead, the subtext is that homosexuality is deviant, S&M sex is evil and pornography is for perverts. Are the millions of straight people who watch pornography perverts? Conservative views around pornography and those who watch it (both homosexual and heterosexual) also find their place in the discourse around Dewani’s bisexuality.
Likewise, the idea of coming out and admitting one’s bisexuality, which often mimics the process of confessing to a sin or wrongdoing, has also played out. He “admitted” he was bisexual as if “we” had always suspected it. Once again ignoring how problematic it is that being gay is something one must admit to, confess.
We live in a femicidal society and it is no secret that South Africa – and the rest of the world – is an incredibly dangerous place for women. You only need to look at the domestic violence statistics to get this context.
It is clear that Dewani’s sexuality will play a big part in the state’s case to prove he had motive to kill his wife, forcing the defence into that territory. This all makes for great voyeurism materialism. But let us not forget that this case is about the murder of a young woman called Anni Dewani and not about sexual preferences. It must not be an opportunity to rehash backward prejudices.