SA GLAAD applauds the courage, efforts and initiative of the group of religious leaders who this week signed a memorandum against the role that was played by "religious fundamentalism and the patriarchy" in the increase of homophobic hate in Southern Africa over the last few months.
SA GLAAD has over the past few years been warning of the dangers posed against human rights, equality, democracy and the South African Constitution by patriarchy and religious fundamentalism.
The religious leaders who signed the memorandum included Arch Bishop Rowan Smith of St George's Cathedral, Dr Allan Boesak and his wife Elna, pastors Marius Brand, Ecclesia de Lange, Laurie Gaum, Judith Kotze and Pieter Overholzer, bishop David Russel and Marlow Valentine.
Of special note, this group publicly opposed steps taken in Uganda to punish homosexuality by death, as well as attacks against gay people in Malawi and Kenya and warned against a return to patriarchal cultural traditions in our own country by some leaders, which does not bode well for a more tolerant and respectful future around the issues of human rights facing sexual minorities in Africa.
We would like to applaud these leaders for their progressive stance and for emphasizing the more moderate and progressive position within the Christian faith on the issue, for encouraging and fostering an atmosphere of tolerance, acceptance and welcoming within the Christian community and for encouraging "a greater understanding of God's love and mercy for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation."
We would like to support them in their call, as stated in their memorandum, "for South Africans to emphasize again the freedom that was fought for so hard. All citizens, no matter what their gender, orientation or cultural roots, have a responsibility to the community to be involved in the fight for human rights, freedom and equality for all."