is_south_africa_gay_rights_fear_after_mandela_death_justifiedA leading UK-based website has been criticised for suggesting that LGBT rights are under threat in South Africa because Nelson Mandela has now died.

According to Gay Star News, “Activists have told GSN they are concerned that without Mandela, the figurehead of equality, South Africa could follow the rest of the continent and ban gay rights.”

In the article, author Joe Morgan writes that “while the country is known as the ‘Rainbow Nation’, the pearl of gay rights in Africa, it could only be a matter of time before this is revoked”.

Morgan, however, only quotes one activist, Ingrid Lynch from Cape Town’s Triangle Project, who said:

“While LGBTI people might be legally accepted in policy and legislation, they are not necessarily accepted on the ground. We have hate crimes against LGBTI people.”

She added: “With Nelson Mandela passing, many feel there’s suddenly a real threat to those rights.” Mambaonline was unable to contact Lynch about her comments in the article due to the holidays.

The article raises further concerns such as President Zuma’s 2006 anti-gay statements, the appointment of the conservative Mogoeng Mogoeng as Chief Justice, and the 2012 call by traditional leaders to drop gay rights from the Constitution.

While these are valid concerns, the article doesn’t, however, acknowledge the checks and balances that exist in South Africa (and in other democracies) that limit the impact of these kinds of incidents.

Gay Star News doesn’t, for example, mention that Zuma was forced to “unreservedly” apologise for his comments, that the ruling ANC remains firmly pro-equality and that while Mogoeng belongs to a church that believes that homosexuality can be cured, he has publicly denied that he is homophobic.

The calls for constitutional changes were also quickly dismissed out of hand by the government and other relevant authorities.

South African Eugene-Joshua Mouton commented on the article, calling it “unsubstantiated rubbish… about our country- clearly proving that you have no idea what happens here!”

“Tata Mandela has not played an active role in politics for many years and if government wanted to take away our rights they would have done so irrrespective of Mandela! As wonderful as Mandela was, our democracy does not hinge on him. Please stop insulting us by suggesting otherwise!” he wrote.

Kim Cupido added his disdain for the article, saying “What a load of absolute nonsense this article is. I feel it is my responsibility to remind Joe Morgan that South Africa is a constitutional democracy and that while we do indeed have conservative politicians none of them are a threat to the LGBT community’s constitutional rights. Could we please have no more of this fear-mongering nonsense.”

Derek Williams, however, commented that, “Looking at how easily LGBT have been recriminalised in Russia, India and in former Soviet possessions and continue to worsen in most of the East and Africa, despite UN policy and international condemnation, these fears seem well founded to me.”

What do you think? Do you believe that the article is justified or is it a sensationalistic piece with no real merit?

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