George Mayor Melvin Naik
The DA in the Western Cape says that the ACDP’s support for anti-gay comments made by the mayor of George is a violation of the party’s “moral obligation to create a tolerant post-apartheid South African society.”
Last week, Mayor Melvin Naik – who is himself from the DA – went on to local Christian radio station Heartbeat FM to publicly distance himself, due to his “Christian conviction and belief system,” from a performance by the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus as part of the town’s first LGBTQ Pride event.
The show and the Pride were promoted by the municipality, and supported by other council members and the deputy mayor. The DA quickly condemned Naik’s comments and announced an investigation into his actions.
The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), however, came out in support of the mayor. The Cape Argus reported that ACDP Western Cape leader, Ferlon Christians, said that Naik “has the right to his own views” and was entitled to freedom of speech.
“No one is preaching hatred towards the gay community. We accept them like we accept everyone else because we are all created equal before God. But there are aspects that we don’t agree with as a party,” said Christians.
“We also cannot be hypocritical where we advocate freedom of speech but take action against people for expressing their personal views,” he added.
Masizole Mnqasela, DA Western Cape MPP and Standing Committee Chairperson on Local Government, slammed the ACDP leader’s statement in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament on Thursday.
“Member Christians must be mindful of the impact his words have in our communities,” Mnqasela told the MPPs. “In a country with the highest rate of corrective rape in the world, a public expression of disapproval of the LGBTIQ community can quite literally mean the difference between life and death. Simply put, anti-gay approval incites anti-gay violence, and this violates the right to sexual orientation enshrined in South Africa’s Constitution.”
Mnqasela called on the Speaker of the House to look into if any measures could be taken against Christians. “Member Christians and Mayor Naik must understand that although their public disapproval of the event has not halted it, their public sentiment acts as ammunition for the hatred felt towards the LGBTIQ community which still simmers in our society. A comment of disapproval by a public leader has the potential to spark violent protest against LGBTIQ individuals.”
Mnqasela continued: “While Member Christians has every right to hold his own set of Christian-based beliefs, he must understand that as a member of South Africa’s human rights-based society he has a moral duty to represent and foster tolerance and acceptance regardless of his personal views.”
The George performance by the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus and the town’s LGBTQ Pride parade went ahead without incident on Tuesday.
The ACDP is known for its anti-LGBTQ views, and in 2015 supported UCT’s then SRC Vice-President, Zizipho Pae, who controversially described the US Supreme Court’s decision to legalise same-sex marriage as “institutionalising and normalising sin.”
The party previously blocked LGBTQ-affirming motions in Parliament; one congratulating South Africa’s Francois Nel for winning Mr Gay World in 2011 and another in 2015 in support of the country hosting Mr Gay World and condemning homophobia. The ACDP also voted against the passage of the Civil Union Bill that legalised same-sex marriage in 2006.