Knysna’s mayor – who says that she “receives a barrage of abuse” because the town’s municipality supports the gay festival – has retracted the public perception survey on the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras, saying that it will instead be undertaken by a reputable survey company.
In a statement, the town’s Executive Mayor, Eleanore Bouw-Spies, said that the survey was drawn up internally and specifically addressed issues that were raised in previous years by disgruntled citizens.
“We received comments that the way it [the survey] reads can be perceived to be biased, and… as it was not the intention to offend, decided to retract the document with immediate effect.”
The mayor said that the municipality has now asked an independent survey company to draw up a revised survey form and will continue with the survey after this year’s festival.
Bouw-Spies added that “there was never an intention to cancel the 2009 Pink Loerie Festival,” but said that the “intention was to address negative issues, if any, that came out of the public survey with the organisers of the Pink Loerie Festival in an effort to minimise complaints…”
The mayor said that some compromise would have to be struck between the Pink Loerie and offended citizens:
“As much as we cannot trample the right to free association and expression of the Gay and Lesbian Community of this country; we can also not disregard the rights of religious and other groups that perceive the Festival a direct affrontage to their dearest believes and value systems.
“Knysna and South Africa; as democratic and responsible communities must accept that; to guarantee the rights of opposing groups, we will have to come to some compromises that threaten some very dear and fundamental values. All this in order for us all to continue to practice our lifestyles and religions openly and freely.”
The 2009 Pink Loerie Mardi Gras takes place from 30 April to 3 May.