Gay men’s health organisation Health4Men says that disgraced journalist Jon Qwelane’s continued anti-gay views are damaging to its work and the country.
The group said in a statement that it was “hugely disappointed that Jon Qwelane continues to argue for the right to propagate inhumane and bigoted opinions of gay people”.
Health4Men was responding to the news that Qwelane is this month planning to challenge his hate speech conviction on the basis that he has the constitutional right to make homophobic statements.
“Apparently Mr Qwelane is of the opinion that his right to discriminate and harm gay people should be protected. Not only is this illogical, it is also selfish and against the spirit of inclusion and acceptance that define our country’s Constitution,” said the group.
“For Health4Men such views are also hugely damaging to the work it does to promote the health of men in South Africa. As research conducted jointly by Health4Men and the University of Cambridge has shown, bigotry and homoprejudice have a hugely detrimental effect on the ability of men to engage in healthy behaviour. Research published in world-leading scientific journals shows that men are more likely to put themselves at risk of HIV infection if they suffer the effects of homoprejudice.
“We thus highlight that in addition to Mr Qwelane’s comments being highly degrading and bigoted, he needs to be held accountable for his impact of the HIV epidemic in South Africa,” said Health4Men.
The organisation added that “Irrespective of whether it manifests in a newspaper article, in our communities or in our homes, discrimination and prejudice must never be allowed to go unchallenged. As South Africans we have a right to demand equality for all.”
Qwelane was found guilty of hate speech in May 2011 for his notorious 2008 article Call me names, but gay is NOT okay…
While an Equality Court ruled that the article “propagates hatred and harm against homosexuals” and ordered Qwelane to apologise to the gay community and to pay damages of R100,000 towards an LGBT rights group, he has continued to challenge the ruling.
Health4Men, a project of the Anova Health Institute NPC that provides health services for men who have sex with men (MSM) in South Africa.