Tuesday, April 20, 2010

SA GLAAD Criticizes Verdict of BCCSA That It Is Okay To Use "Gay" As A Derogatory Term Meaning "Stupid"

SA GLAAD reacts with dismay at the verdict of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa on the complaint lodged by Cecil Janse van Rensburg about a regular feature on the University of Pretoria's radio station, TUKS FM, hosted by DJ Konstant de Vos, in which listeners are asked to call or sms about whether a person's behaviour is “gay” or “ok”.

According to its statement, the BCCSA refused to uphold the complaint, saying that "the word gay was not used to refer to homosexuality, but according to widespread current usage of the word amongst young people, to a carefree attitude and unjustifiable statements."

We take issue with the BCCSA's findings that "the broadcast was not intended to injure, that it was not malicious or mala fide" when the word usage very clearly defines the word "gay" - a word used to describe homosexuality since the 1960's - as the polar opposite of what is considered "ok", good or acceptable.

We also object to the BCCSA's statement that "the word gay was not used to refer to homosexuality, but according to widespread current usage of the word amongst young people, to a carefree attitude and unjustifiable statements." when the world is described and defined clearly in the Oxford dictionary as "gay

• adjective (gayer, gayest) 1 (especially of a man) homosexual. 2 relating to homosexuals. 3 dated light-hearted and carefree. 4 dated brightly coloured; showy.

• noun a homosexual person, especially a man.

— DERIVATIVES gayness noun.

— USAGE Gay is now a standard term for ‘homosexual’, and is the term preferred by homosexual men to describe themselves. As a result, it is now very difficult to use gay in its earlier meanings ‘carefree’ or ‘bright and showy’ without arousing a sense of double entendre. Gay in its modern sense typically refers to men, lesbian being the standard term for homosexual women.

— ORIGIN Old French gai."

We find it relevant to ask which dictionary the BCCSA are using, and how they arrived at this infamous and defamatory verdict which in essence dictates that it is perfectly "okay" to use the word "gay" to describe anything negative, "not okay" and in particular "stupid"?

We take pains to highlight the harm done in terms of hate speech and offense caused by inferring that a person is "stupid" by some prejudiced people, simply based on inborn characteristics such as their sexual orientation - by attempting to change the meaning of a term used to describe an entire community of people to mean "stupid" - or worse.

Leading off this point, we would like to note that referring to people or things as "gay", meaning "stupid" should be no more or less offensive than calling people "black" or "white" to mean "stupid" or "bad". Same difference - only, one the BCCSA would seem to care about - the other, obviously not.

There are many people, particularly young people, struggling to accept their own identities - and trying to find acceptance in an already prejudiced and hostile society without the added pressure of having more negative connotations added to the term which describes them and the community they form a part of. This verdict of the BCCSA is a very irresponsible and insensitive slap in the face to our community.

This is yet another case in point of human rights and equality laws in South Africa not being adhered to - and made to fail those whom they were intended to protect.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

SA GLAAD Expresses Outrage At Reports Of SA Sneaking Jon Qwelane Into Kampala As Ambassador

The South African Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation expresses anger and outrage at the news that Jon Qwelane, the homophobic and racist journalist who has yet to appear in the Equality Court to face charges of hate speech and incitement to hate is now in Kampala to take up his appointment as South African Ambassador.

We react with disgust to the news from the SA Human Rights Commission that Mr Qwelane who could not be traced for a lengthy period to be served notice of his court appearance, finally received them - but did not respond within the specified period to say whether or not he would appear - only to find that this man is in Uganda to act as South Africa's Ambassador!

It is this sort of cavalier disregard for the SA Constitution and law and order which lies at the heart of the current disregard for the value of human rights in South Africa.

According to public news sources, Qwelane was "sneaked" into Uganda along with President Zuma's entourage during his state visit to Uganda two weeks ago and is awaiting confirmation as the new South African Ambassador by Ugandan President Musseveni.

This, despite recent calls to not follow through on the appointment of a known racist and homophobe to such a post in a country where there is a strong move by the Ugandan government to install the death penalty as punishment for gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender Ugandans.

This follows the revelation that calls by human rights movements for President Zuma and the SA Government to speak out against Uganda's Gay Genocide Bill have fallen on deaf ears, and that they have made no response to, nor even acknowledged these calls.

We see this as President Zuma and the SA Government's demonstration of the lack of respect or consideration for the feelings, dignity and human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex South Africans and Ugandans.

We see this move to install a dangerously outspoken homophobe in a position where he can do grievous damage to both the image of South Africa and the lives of innocent Ugandans - and to help him avoid facing the charges brought against him - as a slap in the face - and confirmation that South Africa's human rights ethos is officially dead and buried.