06/12/2017 05:21 GMT | Updated 06/12/2017 05:21 GMT

IRR: Constitution Needs To Provide More Protection To LGBTQI Community

Eastern Cape identified as the most homophobic province in South Africa.

Mal Langsdon / Reuters

The Constitution should provide effective protection for lesbian and gay people in South Africa, according to a study by the national Institute of Race Relations.

The study found that more than half of South Africans (51%) agreed that the Constitution should provide protections for lesbian and gay people compared to 29% who disagreed and 16% chose neither.

In a statement, it said at least 80% of the LGBTQI+ community in South Africa have not experienced discrimination by healthcare providers.

But the revelations show there is still a long way to go for equality in queer communities. The Eastern Cape, for instance, was identified as the most homophobic province in the country by the IRR.

LGBTQI+ people in the Eastern Cape are three times more likely to be punched, hit, kicked or beaten than in other provinces. Black community members are also more likely to be victims of violence.

"Black LGBT people are twice as likely as white LGBT people to know of someone being murdered on these grounds – which partially explains why only half of the black respondents are completely open about their sexuality," the IRR said.

Research analyst Gerbrandt van Heerden acknowledged that education could play a key role in shifting perspectives on sexuality in a more positive direction.

"People with a tertiary education in Africa are almost three times as likely to be tolerant towards homosexuals as people who have no formal education."

Van Heerden said "a progressive Constitution coupled with an education system that reinforces the value of that Constitution can go a long way in promoting tolerance and acceptance of the LGBT community".