22 August 2017

South Africa: SA's Qwelane 'Directly Contributed' to Uganda's Anti-Gay Laws, University Says

Photo: Werner Beukes/Sapa
Jon Qwelane (file photo).

Former Ugandan ambassador and controversial columnist Jon Qwelane "directly contributed" to the formulation of anti-homosexuality laws in Uganda, the University of Pretoria's Centre for Human Rights alleged on Tuesday.

Qwelane was appointed the ambassador to Uganda by President Jacob Zuma in 2010 following a column published in the Sunday Sun in 2008 titled 'Call me names, but gay is NOT okay.'

Uganda's anti-homosexual laws were adopted after his arrival in the country, UP's Centre for Human Rights said in a statement.

"In a perverse turn of events, he thus became a representative of a constitutionally democratic and liberal South Africa to a country that was just beginning to discuss the promulgation of an anti-gay law that initially at that time prescribed the death penalty for homosexuals.

"[His] utterances in writing can, therefore, be said to have directly contributed to the determination to make a law criminalising minority sexual and gender identities in that country."

The South Gauteng High Court on Friday ruled that Qwelane must unconditionally apologise to the LGBT+ community for his 2008 column wherein he praised Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for his "unflinching and unapologetic stance" on homosexuality.

In the column, Qwelane further equated homosexuality with bestiality, when he wrote, "Otherwise at this rate, how soon before some idiot demands to 'marry' an animal, and argues that this Constitution 'allows it?'"

The court ruled that Qwelane's apology must be published in the Sunday Sun or any national Sunday newspaper.

In the statement, UP's Centre for Human Rights said Qwelane contributed to the hateful rhetoric against members of the LGBTI+ community which has led to the killing, rape and discrimination of people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

"Mr Qwelane's negative and hateful disposition towards homosexuality and by proxy the homosexual, transgender and intersex community manifested itself in many other copycat hateful utterances over the years after the publication of his column," the centre's statement reads.

Source: News24

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