Precarity, ungrievability, and thinking beyond the law: a framework for understanding the position of LGB individuals in South Africa


  • Claire Westman University of the Free State



South African Constitution, LGB rights, sexual violence, grievability, legislation


Drawing primarily on the work of Judith Butler and Drucilla Cornell, this paper aims to provide a theoretical framework for understanding the position of sexual minorities in South Africa. This will be done particularly in light of the violence, discrimination, and marginalisation that is experienced by, predominantly, black gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals from poorer South African communities. In so doing, the paper also explores how the marginalisation of and violence against LGB individuals play an important role in national identity development and the upholding of a hetero-patriarchal social order. The goal is thus to create an understanding of why, despite legal and constitutional rights, LGB individuals continue to be marginalised, violated, and discriminated against in their everyday lived experiences, and further, why, because of this socio-symbolic positioning, the law cannot necessarily guarantee these rights or protections.


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