Jon Qwelane

Behind the Mask reports that the case against homophobic columnist Jon Qwelane is still being put together by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

According to the website, Donald Komane Mampa of the SAHRC said that the organisation is “finalising the draft Heads of Arguments which shall be forwarded to all stakeholders to enable them to consider what further issues they would want to include…”

He also said that, “At this stage, the Founding Affidavit has been prepared and is to be submitted to the Chairperson for his consideration, approval and signature when he returns to office. Once this has been done the matter will be duly filed.” He gave no date as to when this will happen.

Qwelane’s July 2008 article, titled Call me names, but gay is NOT okay…, published by the Sunday Sun, equated homosexuality with bestiality, praised Robert Mugabe’s oppression of gays and lesbians and encouraged the removal of the sexual-orientation equality clause from the constitution.

The SAHRC has been criticised by activists for the delay in getting the case before the equality court after they met with the organisation in March.

Emily Craven of the Joint Working Group told Behind The Mask that while the network still wanted the SAHRC to press ahead with the case, they “undertook to follow this course of action a year ago and they need to follow through,” adding, “I think the time frames that seem to be required to even take the slightest move forward seem ridiculous.”

In a statement issued in December 2008, the SAHRC said it believed that “the language used by Mr Qwelane is not consistent with the spirit and values of the constitution, and it’s hurtful at the least” and committed itself to pursuing the matter in the equality court, although little progress has been made since then.

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