The Ambassador to Uganda from South Africa has been found guilty of anti-gay hate speech for a 2008 article he wrote titled, “Call me names but gay is NOT OKAY.” Ambassador Jon Qwelane, who has been described as “Notoriously homophobic,” in his op-ed blamed “homosexuals” for a split in the Anglican church, and referred to “men kissing other men in public, walking holding hands and shamelessly flaunting what are misleadingly termed their ‘lifestyle’ and ‘sexual preferences,’ as “the rapid degradation of values and traditions.” Over one thousand wrote the paper directly to complain.
Qwelane, who remains in his post as Ambassador to Uganda despite protests, has now been ordered by the court to both apologize and pay a fine of approximately $14,000. In the 2008 op-ed he wrote, “And by the way, please tell the Human Rights Commission that I totally refuse to withdraw or apologise for my views. I will write no letters to the commission either, explaining my thoughts,” and added, “quite frankly I don’t give a damn: wrong is wrong!”
“I do pray that some day a bunch of politicians with their heads affixed firmly to their necks will muster the balls to rewrite the constitution of this country, to excise those sections which give licence to men ‘marrying’ other men, and ditto women,” Qwelane wrote. “Otherwise, at this rate, how soon before some idiot demands to ‘marry’ an animal, and argues that this constitution ‘allows’ it?”
The article also included a drawing of a priest presiding over a wedding of a man to a worried-looking goat.
The South Africa Sunday Sun tepidly apologized one week later for the piece, wrongly finding, “In his column, Qwelane does not advocate hate, but merely gives his opinion about homosexuality. He does not ask for gays and lesbians to be harmed. It is robust language, not hate speech.” South Africa’s Equality Court disagreed, stating the column did promote hatred.
“We are hoping really that this finding will send a message to community members, a message that says gay and lesbian people have an equal right to the protection of their dignity,” said Vincent Moaga, spokesman for the South African Human Rights Commission, which initiated the complaint against Mr Qwelane, according to a report by the BBC.
Uganda continues to be plagued with its unconstitutional “Kill The Gays” bill, which reportedly will still be reintroduced into Parliament again by the infamous MP David Bahati.
The original op-ed does not seem to be available online, but a PDF is available here.
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