Cllr Martin Meyer & Council Speaker, Cllr Logie Naidoo
The openly gay DA councillor who was allegedly subjected to homophobic insults by an ANC member of the Ethekwini Metro Council has rejected an explanation by the Speaker.
Councillor Martin Meyer last week claimed that Council Speaker Logie Naidoo refused to allow him to proclaim his support for Durban Gay Pride and then allowed an ANC councillor to make homophobic comments against him, without taking any action.
Mambaonline contacted the Speaker’s Office requesting a comment about the incident and was emailed by Ranjini Pather, who responded on behalf of Naidoo.
The Speaker insisted that Meyer had presented “a distorted version of events at the Council meeting” and accused him and the DA of “grand standing.” Naidoo said that the matter had nothing to do with homophobia but rather with proper procedure.
He claimed that Meyer was out of order by attempting “to sneak-in an announcement on Durban Gay Pride without giving notice of his intention” and trying to do so after the Speakers’ report, which he said is not permitted.
Naidoo also went on to argue that “heckling, provoking and making comments” are common in the Council and that “councillors of all parties are guilty of misconduct.”
Naidoo further insisted that “we support Durban’s LGBT community” and warned the community to “not be used by opposition political parties.”
Meyer, however, dismissed Naidoo’s response, insisting that the practice when making announcements to wish groups well or to announce events is “to wait until the Speaker has finished his announcements, and then indicate that you want to speak.”
He noted that the Naidoo had allowed him to start making his announcement and only barred him from continuing when ANC councillors started shouting and heckling after he mentioned gay pride.
“I stopped and asked for his protection. It is then that he said I should have asked him before the meeting. This has never been the practice in council,” insisted Meyer, who revealed that Naidoo “has allowed me to give good wishes to gay pride every previous year since 2011.”
Meyer commented that he was especially disappointed as he had always known “Cllr. Naidoo to be acceptant of the LGBTI community” and suggested that the speaker had prioritised party loyalty in the incident.
“My reading is that he realised that the ANC was looking bad with the homophobic remarks, and tried to prevent that. But instead of disciplining his own caucus, he decided to silence me with a new rule that no one has heard of before,” he said.
Meyer further noted that there is a difference between heckling and homophobic remarks.
“No councillor is allowed to say anything that is deemed hate speech. No racist, sexist or homophobic remarks would be allowed. So this is not about heckling,” said Meyer. “Heckling I can take. It is the homophobic remarks that are wrong, and that the Speaker should have acted on.”
Meyer revealed that he had previously discussed homophobic actions against him by two councillors with the Speaker, and requested “that he hosts a meeting between myself and the councillors to find a way forward. He however never took any action.”
“This is not about party politics,” insisted Meyer, “this is about protecting our LGBTI community. I am committed to work with the ANC to improve the situation for this community in our city. I would be more than willing to meet with the Speaker and the specific councillor to resolve this matter.”
Naidoo told Mambaonline that he has “requested more information” on last week’s homophobic heckling. Despite his statement that Durban “is an event City” and that “we support all events,” he admitted that he had not been aware that Durban Gay Pride was taking place.
The Durban Pride Liberation Festival concluded this past weekend, with a march and events at Sharks Stadium on Saturday.
Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Manager of the Durban Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre, which organises Durban Pride, said she was surprised that Naidoo was not aware of this year’s commemorations as the municipality had been notified and had granted its permission for the event to take place.
While a number of political parties were invited to Durban Pride, only the DA made the effort to attend. The ANC, which had earlier confirmed its attendance, failed to show up at the event.