Jon Qwelane

Disgraced homophobic South African ambassador Jon Qwelane will attempt to reverse a recent court ruling finding him guilty of hate speech.

According to SAPA, Qwelane’s lawyer is claiming that he did not purposefully fail to defend himself at the Equality Court but simply could not do so.

“The application will state that Qwelane was not in wilful default of the Equality Court, as he was in Kampala on public service on the date of the hearing,” Andrew Boerner, of Jurgens Bekker Attorneys, told SAPA.

He insisted that while Qwelane’s homophobic article, which led to the ruling against him, “was controversial, it was not an incitement to violence.”

Qwelane ‘entitled’ to freedom of expression

Boerner also claimed that his client’s right to write the article was protected under the constitution’s guarantee of freedom of expression.

Qwelane – who is South Africa’s High Commissioner to Uganda – was found guilty of hate speech and fined R 100,000 late last month for writing a 2008 anti-gay article, Call me names, but gay is NOT okay…, for the Sunday Sun.

In it, Qwelane equated homosexuality with bestiality, praised Robert Mugabe’s oppression of gays and lesbians and encouraged the removal of the sexual-orientation protection clause from the constitution. The accompanying cartoon depicted a man marrying a goat in church, which Qwelane suggested was equivalent to same-sex marriage.

Qwelane was sued by the SA Human Rights Commission but failed to respond to court papers, file any defence or appear in court.

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