Examples of some of the designs for which Health4Men had requested printing quotes.
A Pretoria printing company has refused to print material for a national gay men’s health group because it has a “moral issue” with the content.
Health4Men revealed that it had recently contacted a number printing companies, including Joyprint in Pretoria, for a quote to print coasters and posters.
The materials aim to disseminate responsible sex messaging to both MSM (men who have sex with men) and the general population specifically in shebeens.
Despite the value of the printing work being substantial, Nico von Stade, owner of Joyprint , responded that he was declining the opportunity to provide a quote.
“We can’t help you with this. It is a moral issue for me. Regards,” he said in an e-mail.
Health4Men programme manager Glenn de Swardt called Von Stade to determine the nature of the company’s so-called “moral issue”.
“We anticipated the quotation to be in the region of R100,000 and were surprised that any printing company would decline this opportunity to quote, especially in the current economic climate”, said de Swardt.
“I was told in no uncertain terms that the company had a moral issue on the grounds that the coasters included references to men having sex with men.”
De Swardt explained that the campaign did not promote male-to-male sex but was aimed at promoting sexual health.
“I asked him whether he was concerned about HIV and he replied that although he was concerned, he was ‘not prepared to stretch my morals that far…’”.
When Mambaonline contacted Von Stade, he confirmed that he had turned down the opportunity to do the work.
“The problem is that I don’t see same-gender sex as how God created us. I don’t want to support anything to do with that. I won’t print anything to do with same-sex issues.
“I would rather walk away than undermine my conscience,” he said, adding that he believed that “God can heal and save them [gay people] if they come to him”.
When Mambaonline told Von Stade that his actions could be in contravention of the Equality Act, which bars “the denial of access to opportunities, including access to services or contractual opportunities for rendering services for consideration” based on sexual orientation, he was unmoved.
Von stade insisted that he would fight to the end for his views. “If you want to take me to court that’s fine but I’m standing up for what I believe is right. I won’t back down.”
Health4Men said that the incident highlights the reality of endemic homoprejudice in South Africa.
“Health4Men has repeatedly asserted the fact that homoprejudice impacts directly on the HIV epidemic; a company refusing to print responsible sex massaging because of homoprejudice takes this to a new level,” added the organisation.
De Swardt urged the Department of Health and all other government departments and institutions who are invested in upholding the constitution, to blacklist the company.
“In addition we urge the gay community to boycott the company concerned, and to urge their employers to do the same,” said De Swardt
Health4Men is a project of the Anova Health Institute that promotes access to competent health services for men who have sex with men in five provinces.