MP Patekile Holomisa made a recent statement that “the majority of South Africans do not promote or protect the rights of gays and lesbians .” The statement has raised much controversy and the ANC has distanced itself from these views and believes that any law which denies the people their right to their sexual orientation devalues them in society and such affront is a breach of dignity and Section 9 of the Constitution .
SLSJ is committed to the advancement of constitutional values of human dignity, the achievement of equality and the achievement of Human rights and freedoms. SLSJ is also committed to non-racialism and non- sexism, the supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law. SLSJ is not in support of MP Holomisa’s anti-gay statement as it does not support the right to equality of persons before the law and the right to equal protection and benefit of the law regardless of sex or race.
THE DA has called for the suspension of ANC MP Patekile Holomisa, chairman of Parliament’s constitutional review committee and president of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA (Contralesa), following his claim that the vast majority of citizens do not wish to promote – let alone protect – the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians .
MP Holomisa is also chair of the Constitutional Review Committee, which recently recommended a proposal from Contralesa and the House of Traditional Leaders to remove gay protection from the Constitution’s Bill of Rights be taken to political parties for further discussion .
MP Holomisa is reported to have told City Press that homosexuality was a “condition that occurred when certain cultural rituals have not been performed and he stated that once you take those (gays) to a spiritual healer they (the healers) tell you it’s because some ritual hasn’t been performed. But when rituals are done, the person starts to behave like other people in society. I don’t know how it works for people in other cultures and those who live in urban areas .
The Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) questioned whether the National House of Traditional Leaders knew that their comments constitute hate speech. In a press release the Forum for Empowerment of Women added that, “As the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community were enraged that traditional leaders are making such careless statements. It is such a betrayal when a body that is supposed to protect the rights of people turns around and proposes an amendment of those very rights to exclude people from the constitution. We have a constitution to protect the rights of everyone, not just those of the majority .”
Forum for Women Empowerment demanded, “That the National House of Traditional Leaders apologises to the LGBTI community and take back what they said, because it is an infringement of people’s rights. Our bill of rights in section 16(2) says even though we have the freedom of expression, but ‘freedom of expression does not extend to (b) incitement of imminent violence, (c) Advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm. “Holomisa’s utterances have no place in an egalitarian and progressive democracy such as ours. His deeply prejudiced views undermine the values of equality, dignity and freedom on which our democracy is based, and for which so many fought so hard for,” said Watty Watson, DA Chief Whip .
Section nine of the Constitution, which outlaws unfair discrimination on grounds including sexual orientation, was one of the core values of the Constitution, said Mathole Motshekga, ANC Chief Whip .
It must be noted that the Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of democracy in South Africa and must be honoured in a democratic republic. The comment of MP Holomisa is not in conformity with Section 9 of the Constitution which states that everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law. Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms. Section 9 encourages the promotion of achievement of equality, legislative and other measures designed to protect or advance persons or categories of persons, disadvantaged by unfair discrimination may be taken. The section explicitly states that the state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth. Section 9 also states that, no person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more of the grounds stated.
The anti- gay statement made by MP Holomisa does not promote equal protection and benefit of the law to the gay and lesbian community. SLSJ is happy and relieved that the ANC did not entertain the anti-gay constitutional amendment proposal.