The South African Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (SA GLAAD) says that it has withdrawn its support for fledgling political party COPE in the 2009 elections due to the party’s choice of Methodist Bishop Mvume Dandala as its presidential candidate.

In a statement, the organisation listed its reasons for retracting its call for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual (GLBT) community to vote for the party. These include:

  • COPE’s choice of presidential candidate – The appointment of religious figures in positions of political power and influence as a direct threat to secular democracy;

  • The appointment of a presidential candidate associated with a religious group which has in the past unequivocally demonstrated its opposition to GLBT rights and equality;

  • COPE’s apparent decision to change into a religious political entity and the threat this poses to equality for all in SA, particularly with reference to GLBT rights.

“SA GLAAD views a secular democracy as the only safe way forward where ALL people in SA of all faiths, races, cultures and diversities can enjoy freedom and equality together,” said the organisation.

It said that Bishop Dandala, who served as the head of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa between 1998 and 2003, was also a past co-chairperson of a group called SACLA (South African Christian Leadership Assembly). SA GLAAD claims that SACLA actively opposed the passing of legislation which legalised same gender marriage in South Africa.

“A President who is also an ordained religious minister and who had filled high offices in religious bodies – would simply by that fact alone ensure that SA would no longer be run by a secular government, but a theocracy – a country whose government is run by a church or religion,” said SA GLAAD.

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