Jon Qwelane

A decision on homophobe Jon Qwelane’s bid to have a hate speech ruling set aside will be announced on the 1st of September.

Qwelane’s lawyer, George Kairinos, argued in the Johannesburg Equality Court yesterday that the court did not have the power to issue a default judgment in a directions hearing.

The default judgment came about after Qwelane failed to appear at the directions hearing or even file any papers to defend himself. A directions hearing is held for the court to determine if the case cannot be settled and to decide if and how it should proceed in the courts.

Kairinos said that his client believed that the hearing would not proceed as he was in Uganda at the time. He also argued that the court had erred in defining Qwelane’s 2008 anti-gay article as being hate speech, thereby infringing on his right to free speech.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), which originally sued Qwelane in the matter, defended the default hate speech ruling and insisted that it was within the Equality Court’s power to make it.

The SAHRC called for the court to dismiss Qwelane’s rescission application with costs.

Qwelane, a former journalist who is now South Africa’s ambassador in Uganda, was sued over his article Call me names, but gay is NOT okay… published in the Sunday Sun. In May he was found guilty of hate speech, ordered to apologise and fined R 100,000.

Qwelane was not in court on Tuesday.

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