Patekile Holomisa on the cover of his 2009 book
‘According to Tradition’
A number of groups, including the DA, have called for action to be taken against MP and President of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa), Patekile Holomisa, for his anti-gay stance.
Holomisa is also chair of the Constitutional Review Committee, which recently recommended that 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.
Holomisa justified this action last week by telling City Press that “the great majority” of South Africans did not support the right to equality of gay and lesbian people.
He insisted that most ANC MPs had only voted for same-sex marriage rights in Parliament in 2006 because they were forced to so by the party.
While ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga distanced the party from the comments and the proposal, the DA called on Motshekga to also suspend Holomisa as an MP until he apologises.
“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, on Monday.
LGBT media NGO Behind the Mask (BTM) said that it was “disappointed and outraged” by Holomisa’s statements.
“The fact that a traditional leader who is so influential in African culture can make a comment like this can result in many people being hurt. As a leader with so much power and influence, you cannot be uttering such a statement. We are very disappointed and hope that drastic action is taken against him,” Lesego Tlhwale, BTM Link Co-ordinator told the Daily News.
OUT, the Pretoria-based LGBT well-being group, congratulated the ANC for not entertaining the constitutional amendment proposal but also condemned Holomisa’s views and the actions taken by Contralesa.
“The use of culture to hide prejudice is nothing new and not unique to Africa,” commented Dawie Nel, Director of OUT, to Mambaonline.
He pointed out that while the majority of people may have certain views on matters ranging from abortion to the death penalty it did not necessarily mean that the Constitution should reflect these.
“The Constitution’s Bill of Rights is precisely there to protect all of our rights, especially minorities, regardless of the views of the majority,” Nel said.
In an e-mail to SA GLAAD’s Cobus Jesse Fourie, the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) said that it was “implacably opposed to any tinkering with the Equality clause in the Bill of Rights and will collaborate with like-minded organisations to resist such amendment of a founding principle of the South African Constitution”.