Grahamstown teen launches youth inclusivity campaign after anti-gay sermon

Geir Wilson (left) and his brother Rorke

A Grahamstown teenager has created an empowerment campaign to raise funds for his Equality Court case against a preacher who told school pupils that homosexuality is wrong.

In April, 17-year-old Geir Wilson, a matric pupil at St. Andrew’s College, spoke out after Theuns Pauw, from the African Enterprise international ministry, addressed pupils on “the trappings of pornography and social media.”

In the guest sermon, Pauw also lashed out against LGBTQ people, same-sex marriage and divorced parents. He told shocked students and staff that “God made Adam and Eve, and not Adam and Steve,” adding that “it’s unnatural and ungodly”. Pauw further stated that the devil was behind efforts to legalise same-sex marriage around the world.

After an outcry, he later issued an apology “for any hurt that any persons present during my message, and also anyone who has heard about it or read the posts concerning the talk on social media, may have experienced.”

This was not good enough for Wilson, an LGBTQ+ ally whose older brother, Rorke Wilson, is gay. Together they approached attorneys to help them bring the matter to the Equality Court and the Human Rights Commission. “Our attempts have proved successful and we have a case number at the Equality Court and the matter is being investigated by the commission,” said the teen.

“Even though Mr Pauw apologised, we wanted to take the matter further to try make sure that he wouldn’t be able to preach a sermon like that again,” Wilson explained. The Equality Court complaint not only asks the court to order the preacher to unconditionally apologise in person and in writing, but to also interdict him from “continuing to conduct organised sermons” to pupils under the age of 18.

Wilson has further established a campaign called South African Youth for Inclusivity and Transformation (SayIt) which aims to empower other youth to take a stand in similar situations.

“One thing we’d love to achieve through the SayIt campaign is encouraging people to speak out more in the moment,” said Wilson. “It’s very often that an incident like this will happen and no one will ever say anything about it. So I guess we’re just trying to build a culture amongst youths where speaking out against bigotry isn’t an event but rather the norm.”

The campaign is using backabuddy.co.za to help cover the legal fees which have been incurred in getting the case to the Equality Court. If you’d like to contribute, click here.

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