Stellenbosch University’s student newspaper, Die Matie, is embroiled in controversy after it published a photo on its front page of two men kissing.
The photograph of Mark Brown and Bjorn Czepan kissing was taken at an annual “kiss-in” event in which gay and lesbian student organisations participated for the first time this year.
Copies of the newspaper were reportedly destroyed or defaced by some angry students while others supported the publishing of the image.
The newspaper’s photo editor and photographer, Vanessa Smeets, told the Cape Times that “it was a risk putting it on the front page”.
Roberto Millan, head of the university’s Lesbigay organisation, also spoke to the Times: “It seems to have sparked a big debate at the university, which is fantastic. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Stellenbosch is very conservative but there has been a lot of talk lately about diversity and change.”
The Lesbigay Facebook page received overwhelmingly positive comments from people congratulating the organisation on the news generated by the incident.
Rapport newspaper tracked down Czepan, a German student at the University of Cape Town, who said that he had specifically travelled to Stellenbosch for the kiss-in event.
“It was a nice kiss and worth travelling to Stellenbosch for,” Czepan said.
Die Matie was founded in 1941 and is published every two weeks during the academic year. Located in the university town of Stellenbosch and with almost 30,000 students, the Afrikaans language university is rated as one best in the country but remains seen as a conservative institution.