The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) has cleared radio station Jacaranda FM of discrimination and hate speech against gays and lesbians.

The BCCSA was asked to rule on a complaint by a J. Bell that a call-in show broadcast on the station on 31 October 2007, in which homosexuality was discussed, was said to be an “affront [to the] complainant’s dignity, to contain unfair comment and alleged hate speech.”

The comments were made in the show titled Radio Medium with Michaela that features Michaela Kirkinis; a “medium” who advises listeners about their past, present and future life situations and circumstances.

In the programme, Kirkinis considered an e-mail received from a listener about her lesbian daughter. In the subsequent discussion, Kirkinis made various homophobic statements about homosexuality using words such as “perversion” and “not normal.”

“…that specific perversion is a type of an addiction to a sexual behaviour with a like partner, instead of having the normal partnership of a man and woman,” Kirkinis stated at one point in the show.

She also referred to people “choosing” to turn gay.

“I found the homophobic discussion which ensued, to be discriminatory, unacceptable and not in keeping with the spirit or letter of our Constitution,” said Bell in his complaint.

However, the BCCSA said that while the statements “might have been in questionable taste and offensive to sensitive listeners,” there was no advocacy of hatred or incitement to cause harm in the programme.

It also said that it was clear that the comments were Kirkinis’ personal opinions and that listeners had the opportunity to phone in and express opposing views.

“If the material contained in the programme is judged within this context, it does not exceed the respondent’s right to freedom of expression,” ruled the Commission, adding that, “no contravention of the [Broadcasting] Code could be found and the complaint was not upheld.”

Article written with assistance of Gayspeak.

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