The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) programme on Strengthening Evidence-based Policy, works across seven key themes. This paper was developed under the Sexuality, Poverty and Law theme. It focuses on homophobic hate crimes in South Africa, and how they are dealt with by the legal system. The authors argue that recognising forms of violence motivated by prejudice as “hate crimes” can serve as a powerful legal tool. LGBTQI people are not defined within current policy as a vulnerable group. Special courts dealing with cases of sexual violence were closed by the state (2007- 2008) due to a lack of funds.