Qwelane ordered to apologise for homophobic column

The South Gauteng High Court has ordered Jon Qwelane‚ former journalist and ambassador to Uganda to “unconditionally” apologise to the gay and lesbian community for his homophobic statements he wrote in a newspaper column nine years ago.

The court also dismissed Qwelane’s constitutional challenge of the Equality Act.

The Equality Court had ordered Qwelane to apologise to the lesbian and gay community and pay R100 000.

There were about 350 complaints about his offending statements.

The South African Human Rights Commission approached the high court after Qwelane failed to apologise for his utterances in the column.

He appealed the Equality Court ruling and‚ in 2013‚ filed a new case that questioned the constitutionality of the Equality Act‚ which defines hate speech as “hurtful” — which Qwelane said was a broad and vague definition

The high court on Friday found the statements Qwelane made in his July 2008 column‚ titled “Call me names‚ but gay is not ok“‚ constitute hate speech and are hurtful and harmful to the lesbian‚ gay‚ bisexual‚ transgender and questioning (LGBTI) community.

In the column Qwelane also suggested that the Constitution’s acceptance of gay marriage would lead to “some idiot to marry an animal“. He also endorsed Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s views on homosexuality.

Judge Dimpheletse Moshidi ordered Qwelane to write his apology within 30 days‚ publish it in the Sunday Sun and send proof of publication to the court. He was also ordered to pay costs of the proceedings‚ including postponements.

“The apology is to be published in the Sunday Sun of the same circulation in order to receive the same publicity as the offending statements‚” Moshidi ordered.

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