Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Editorial: Protect us from hate speech

The past week has been something of a rollercoaster ride for Southern Africa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community. First, it faced the prospect of the American anti-gay pastor Steven Anderson entering the country on a “soul-winning” drive. Then it celebrated when the minister of home affairs announced he would deny Anderson entry to South Africa.

Alongside this victory, however, came the finding that only 28.6% of the department of home affairs’s marriage officers are willing to officiate at same-sex marriages. And the pastor refused entry to South Africa is now heading for Botswana, where LGBTI groups are campaigning to keep him out.

At the time of going to print, Botswana’s activists had secured a little more than 2 000 signatures in an online petition – a marked difference from the more than 60 000 in South Africa that made home affairs sit up and listen. But the matter needs attention if, as one gay activist says, there are already many in Botswana eager for Anderson to arrive and help “pray the gay away”.

Citizens are well within their rights to demand protection from hate speech. The government of South Africa, and presumably that of Botswana, would not allow an American neo-Nazi to come to the country to rally people around the banner of white supremacy, so why should it allow hate speech about LGBTI people?

In a positive move, home affairs has committed itself to addressing the issue of marriage officers refusing to marry same-sex couples. It’s about time. After all, the Civil Unions Act giving LGBTI people full marriage rights was passed in 2006.

It’s also a hopeful development that one of Anderson’s biggest supporters in South Africa, Matthew Dean, closed down his hate-spewing website, Dean Ministries.

A September 14 post by him read: “I’ve decided to call it a day; to shake the dust from my feet. I’ve been trying to reach people for five years now but, given the recent events, I just cannot continue anymore.”

How good to have a hatemonger throw up his hands and give up the struggle to spread prejudice among the people of South Africa.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Fears of violence persist a year after the murder of...

The court battle to stop coal mining in rural KwaZulu-Natal has heightened the sense of danger among environmental activists

Data shows EFF has lower negative sentiment online among voters...

The EFF has a stronger online presence than the ANC and Democratic Alliance

More top stories

Kenya’s beach boys fall into sex tourism, trafficking

In the face of their families’ poverty, young men, persuaded by the prospect of wealth or education, travel to Europe with their older female sponsors only to be trafficked for sex

High court reinstates Umgeni Water board

The high court has ruled that the dissolution of the water entity’s board by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was unfair and unprocedural

Mkhize throws the book at the Special Investigating Unit

It’s a long shot at political redemption for the former health minister and, more pressingly, a bid to avert criminal charges
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×