Jon Qwelane

The Jon Qwelane hate speech trial is set to drag on further with the announcement that the case is now to be heard in the High Court, The Sunday World reported.

Qwelane, a former journalist and South Africa’s high commissioner in Uganda, was sued by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) over his now-notorious 2008 anti-gay article Call me names, but gay is NOT okay…, published in the Sunday Sun.

In May last year, an Equality Court ruled that the article “propagates hatred and harm against homosexuals” and he was ordered to apologise to the gay community and to pay damages of R100,000 towards an LGBT rights group.

Qwelane’s lawyers successfully applied to have the judgment rescinded because he was out of the country at the time and was apparently not aware of the seriousness of the matter. The case was then set to be re-tried from the start.

Last week, his lawyers argued that the Equality Court convened in the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Following negotiations, SAHRC representatives and Qwelane’s lawyers then agreed to the transfer of the case to the High Court. It is unclear when the case will be now be heard.

There are indications that Qwelane, who remains in Uganda and has refused to apologise for his article, intends to fight the matter all the way to the Constitutional Court.

Civil society groups and the DA have demanded that Qwelane be recalled as high commissioner from a country that is considering legislation that could impose the death penalty against gays and lesbians.

In the 2008 article, 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.

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