5 March 2010

South Africa: Xingwana Walked Out for 'Women's Dignity'

Pretoria — Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana has defended her decision to leave the "Innovative Women" art exhibition in Johannesburg this week.

Xingwana, who was billed to deliver the keynote speech at the exhibition, walked before she could deliver her address.

In a statement she issued on Thursday, Xingwana said she walked out because she considered some of the artwork on display to be offensive to women.

"My reaction was guided by the view that the 'artworks' were not suitable for a family audience."

Xingwana said the images she saw were not works of art but crude misrepresentations of women masquerading as artworks.

"Those particular works of art stereotyped black women. As a public representative and as a South African, I uphold the laws of our country and the Constitution. I have fought for liberation and women's rights for the most part of my life.

"However, I believe the rights that have been entrenched in our Constitution include the rights of children. This is why we have laws in this country that protect children against exposure to pornographic material.

"I, therefore would not, for any reason, be part of any tendencies that undermine the rights of people."

Xingwana has been heavily criticised by artists who saw her act as homophobic behaviour.

Xingwana said reports about her reaction to the exhibition, were mischievous, deliberately misleading and avoiding the facts.

The minister responded: "I was not aware of the sexual orientation of the pictures or the artists and my reaction was not based on anti-gay sentiments as implied in some media reports."

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