Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SA GLAAD Welcomes Qwelane Verdict in Equality Court

On behalf of SA GLAAD, I would like to express relief and satisfaction with the verdict delivered today by the Equality Court in the matter of Mr Qwelane's hate speech trial resulting from his 2008 article "Call me names, but gay is not okay...".

SA GLAAD as a volunteer organization came into being in 2008 as a direct result of Mr Qwelane's statements in his article, and also as a result of the outrage and offense it caused to the Pink Community and to women, and also to all fair-minded South Africans.

It has taken almost three whole years since this issue first broke in 2008, marked by protests, letter, fax and email campaigns, international and local scrutiny, and consistent pressure from local advocacy groups and activists to come to this point. It is indeed gratifying to know that the Equality Court, the SA Human Rights Commission and the structures supporting it have delivered a just outcome to this matter. For this, we give our most grateful thanks to all those concerned.

It would be remiss if we did not give honorable mention to various individuals who stepped forward to assist during this time: Cobus Fourie, Sarel Ras (SA GLAAD), Coenie Kukkuk (GaySpeak), Luiz DeBarros (Mambaonline) and also Louise Reardon (formerly of SA GLAAD), as well as the staff of the SA Human Rights Commission.

We are indeed satisfied with the verdict of the Equality Court in that Mr Qwelane has been found guilty on the charge of hate speech and fined the sum of R100,000.00, and the order that he must make an apology to the Pink Community and to women for his hateful and offensive statements - an apology which in his article he bragged that he never would make.

We sincerely hope that Mr Qwelane will be held to the decision of the Equality Court, to pay his dues, and to make his apology.

We also repeat our call to the South African government to recall Mr Qwelane from his post as High Commissioner to Uganda, on the grounds that we feel it is unfitting that a person found guilty of hate speech against a minority group be allowed to represent our country as a High Commissioner, least of all in a country where the same groups which bore the brunt of his hate speech are violently oppressed and persecuted.

Christina Engela,

Member of the Board: Press & Media Liaison, SA GLAAD

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