The ANC has asked the Mail & Guardian to prove that disgraced journalist Jon Qwelane is homophobic.
The newspaper approached the ruling party following claims that Qwelane, who is facing charges in the Equality Court over a homophobic 2008 article, could be named South Africa’s next ambassador to Uganda.
“Do you have any scientific evidence that [Qwelane] is a homophobe?” asked ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu.
In the Sunday Sun, article, “Call me names but gay is not okay“, Qwelane 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.
Qwelane’s article has been described by the South African Human Rights Commission as not “being consistent with the spirit and values of the constitution…” The commission is currently pursuing the matter in the Equality Court.
“When we send anyone to any country, those of us who [go] there should respect the Constitution of that country, even if at the time we may frown on what that country chooses to do. We don’t understand why this appointment should be an issue,” Mthembu added.
Uganda is under growing international pressure to withdraw an anti-gay bill from its parliament. The legislation would impose the death penalty on those accused of “aggravated” homosexuality.
Activists have expressed concern that Qwelane’s appointment would be seen as approval of the bill by the South African government. The government has, to date, refused to comment on the bill which has been slammed by numerous western governments.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation has neither confirmed nor denied Qwelane’s appointment.