CHIEF JUSTICE NOMINEE DENIES HOMOPHOBIA

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Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng (inset)
and the Constitutional Court

Chief Justice nominee Mogoeng Mogoeng has denied that he is homophibic and said that he regrets a dissenting ruling that made it appear that he is.

Justice Mogoeng was grilled on Saturday and Sunday during a public Judicial Services Commission interview on his suitability as a candidate.

A number of LGBTI and civil society groups have objected to his nomination and activists wearing t-shirts supporting LGBTI and women’s rights were present at the interview.

In the Le Roux v Dey case earlier this year, Mogoeng disagreed with a majority decision by fellow Constitutional Court judges that there is nothing wrong with being gay or lesbian and thus being depicted as gay is not grounds for defamation. He also did not explain his position in the judgment.

Activists see this as indication of his homophobia and conservative values, further reflected in his membership of the anti-gay Winners Chapel South Africa church.

“I would like to rebut any suggestion that I am insensitive to gender-based violence, that I am homophobic, that I have little or no regard for judicial ethics and that I do not subscribe to freedom of expression,” Mogoeng responded on Saturday.

He admitted that he had erred in not giving an explanation for his dissension in the Le Roux v Dey case and would have agreed with the other judges if he had more time to consider the matter.

He acknowledged that he has “fully embraced the Christian faith” but insisted that this would not affect his judgements as he is “mindful of the fact that our Constitution was not meant to benefit Christians to the exclusion of all other people who either belong to other faiths or do not subscribe to any religion at all”.

Mogoeng argued that the Winners Chapel church’s admonishment of homosexuality was shared by most Christian denominations and that this is not unique to it, nor is it the core basis of its beliefs.

He furthermore insisted that he was committed to upholding the values and human rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Mogoeng also defended his judgement in cases involving violence against women, saying that critics had picked just a few of these cases to slate him.

He said that his rulings in other similar cases, “clearly demonstrate that I am not insensitive and lenient to criminals when it comes to gender-based violence, as alleged.”

According to reports, following the two-day interview, the JSC voted to support Mogoeng as President’s Zuma’s candidate for Chief Justice, although this has not yet been confirmed.

In the position of Chief Justice of South Africa, Mogoeng would also be the head of the country’s Constitutional Court.

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