Opinion

Qwelane tramples on Constitution

Staff Reporter

Sunday Sun columnist Jon Qwelane launches an attack on gay South Africans -- and the Constitution.

As if it wasn’t busy enough trying to cajole apologies out of Julius Malema and Zwelinzima Vavi for their “kill for Zuma” remarks, the South African Human Rights Commission this week had to deal with complaints about Sunday Sun columnist Jon Qwelane’s attack on gay South Africans—and the Constitution.

Taking his cue from the current strife around homosexuality in the Anglican Church, Qwelane writes in the newspaper’s July 20 issue about the “rapid degradation of values and traditions by the so-called liberal influences of nowadays”, referring to men displaying affection in public to other men and “shamelessly flaunting what are misleadingly termed their ‘lifestyle’ and ‘sexual preferences’”.

He applauds Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s strongly homophobic stance, and goes on to say: “Why, only this very month—you’d better believe this—a man, in a homosexual relationship with another man, gave birth to a child!”

Qwelane’s ignorance is astounding—the case in question, in the United States, saw a transgender male (whose sex was changed from female) in a heterosexual relationship fall pregnant artificially as “he” had retained female reproductive organs.

His column continues: “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.”

And, clearly expecting a backlash, he says: “And by the way, please tell the Human Rights Commission that I totally refuse to withdraw or apologise for my views.”

His column was accompanied by a cartoon of a man “marrying” a goat, with the headline “When human rights meet animal rights”.

It’s unfortunate that any newspaper would print such a hate-filled rant. It may not be fully fledged hate speech, as it lacks direct incitement of action against gay people, but Qwelane’s blatant homophobia—and lack of respect for our constitutional values—has no place in present-day South Africa, where gay and lesbian people are assaulted and killed for expressing their love despite the progressive legislation we have in place.

And the equation of homosexuality with bestiality—by means of the cartoon accompanying Qwelane’s claptrap—is an example of the worst kind of irresponsible tabloid reportage.

Perhaps Qwelane is trying to imitate (badly) the “shock value” writing of fellow columnists like David Bullard? He would do well to remember the fate that befell Bullard.

Already many gay rights groups are up in arms, and rightly so. One can only hope that the Human Rights Commission will also take firm action against Qwelane.

FULL SPEED AHEAD NOT SO FAST
Thabo Mbeki
A cautious “Full speed ahead” goes to the President, who has been hailed as a minor miracle worker for getting talks going in Zimbabwe in the past week. He certainly could use the PR boost—but his ratings still depend heavily on a workable government solution being found in Zimbabwe.
Butana Komphela
Parliament’s sports portfolio committee chairperson is always in the news for the wrong reasons—recently for seemingly racist comments. Perhaps Sascoc was over-eager in boycotting the committee, but Komphela is doing more harm than good. It’s time for a change of guard.

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