Cape Town’s homophobic Pastor Oscar Bougardt is continuing to perpetuate dangerous lies about gay people – and the media is letting him get away with it.
Last week, News24 published an article about Bougardt planning to start a church or churches in South Africa in partnership with banned American gay-hate Pastor Steven Anderson.
That’s nothing new. We reported on these plans a few weeks ago. What was more disturbing were the statements he made that were quoted uncritically in the article.
Bougardt firstly offensively referred to gay people as “homos”. He then stated: “Why should we be tolerant of their criminal lifestyle? Ninety-nine percent of paedophiles stem from homosexuality.
“I’m saying so because it is proven that 99% of the paedophiles have a homosexual background. They are blaming their previous lifestyle on what happened. Go and read up on it.”
These kinds of claims, often cited by anti-gay groups, are patently false and anyone who does research on the issue will find that legitimate studies have shown that the majority of offenders are heterosexual in their adult relationships.
Bougardt went on to say that, “homosexuals from affluent areas pick up teenagers for sex and get them addicted to drugs, which led to the teens breaking into cars and turning to crime”.
He added: “The newspapers just want to tell us they [homosexuals] are nice loving people. They are a danger.”
Disturbingly, News24 – one of the most widely read online publications in South Africa – did not question Bogart’s inflammatory statements, did not ask him for evidence for his claims and did not provide any response from experts in the field.
These sorts of claims by religious “leaders”, who are often seen as credible by society, not only fuel homophobia but could lead to violence from those who may see gay people as a danger to children. In other countries the gay paedophile myth has often been used to vilify, criminalise and persecute gay people.
As is often the case when it comes to homophobic statements, there has been little uproar about the preacher’s latest comments. Similar claims about people on the basis of their race, religion or gender, would not be equally tolerated.
Bougardt has a long history of making dangerous and bigoted statements about gay people, insisting that he is simply exercising his right to freedom of speech and religion.
In a hate speech case settlement order signed in August 2014 after he was taken to the Equality Court by the SA Human Rights Commission, Bougardt was “interdicted from publishing statements that are discriminatory or incite hatred or harm on the grounds of sexual orientation”.
He repeatedly contravened the order and continued to make hateful anti-LGBT statements on Mambaonline. In September 24, 2015, for example, he wrote: “We need Isis to come to countries who are homosexual friendly. Isis. Please come rid South Africa of homosexual curse.”
Stating his religious views or opinions is one thing, but calling for the execution of gay people and making incendiary false claims is quite another.
It is now time that the Human Rights Commission take Bougardt back to court. Mambaonline has provided the commission with evidence about his previous statements, but his latest and very public hate speech is the final straw. We urge you to file a complaint with the commission here and demand that action be taken against this man and his evil and dangerous crusade against our community.