Mayor James Mthethwa has denied making homophobic comments
The ANC has spoken out against homophobic comments attributed to one of its own, the mayor of the Umzinyathi District in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mayor James Mthethwa was quoted as saying that gay men were to blame for the spread of HIV, that they brought shame on the community and that local health care workers need to educate the community about “the dangers of homosexuality.”
In a statement, ANC National Spokesperson Zizi Kodwa noted that Mthethwa had denied making the comments in an interview with East Coast Radio.
“I never said that, I even said to have sex with somebody is your choice and nobody should be discriminated on that issue. I said in order to overcome sexual diseases we need to behave,” the mayor told the radio station on Thursday.
Nevertheless, Kodwa said the ANC believes that the comments attributed to Mthethwa “were misplaced, uninformed and extremely regrettable.”
He insisted that the ANC is and remains committed to the fight against discrimination in any form whatsoever and that it is “at the forefront of efforts to eradicate all stigma against the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex Community.”
Kodwa added that “members of the ANC are expected therefore to conduct themselves in line with our proud legacy of being the first country in the world to have a Constitution that outlaws discrimination, at any level including in the provision of healthcare, on the basis of sexual orientation.”
The ANC appealed to Mthethwa to withdraw statements that could be construed as “gay bashing” or discriminatory in any way. It failed, however, to say if action would be taken against the mayor if the reported comments were shown to be accurate.
The ANC’s condemnation of the remarks followed similar criticism by the DA, which said it would lodge a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission.
The allegedly homophobic mayor, who is also a Christian minister, was quoted by the Sowetan on Thursday as saying at the launch of a community health workers training project in Dundee: “We are concerned about homosexuality and we are against it because it brings shame to our communities. This needs to stop before spreading to other places.”
Mthethwa apparently went on to announce that community workers in the area would be conducting a door-to-door campaign to educate locals about “the dangers of homosexuality.”
He has also been criticised for citing dubious statistics about the high rate of infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) and using this to vilify and condemn this vulnerable group.