The Mail & Guardian has reported that the Presidency has said that gay marriage and abortion rights “are not under threat” in South Africa.

President Jacob Zuma’s spokesperson, Vusi Mona, told the newspaper that the president would “uphold the Constitution.”

This despite a pre-election visit in April to Rhema Church by Zuma; during which he urged religious bodies to engage the government on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

Mona further said: “The president was saying: Let’s discuss and see who wins the day. The liberal interpretation of the Constitution may win the day, or the conservative interpretation may win the day. This is an opportunity to educate the conservatives and say that this is not a Christian state.”

LGBTI groups reacted with alarm to Zuma’s earlier statement while conservative and fundamentalist groups saw this as representing an opportunity to work towards reversing the Civil Union Bill and abortion legislation.

Mona’s somewhat ambiguous statements to the Mail & Guardian are, however, unlikely to satisfy LGBTI and women’s rights organisations.

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