The DA’s Zakhele Mbhele
The DA has called for the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate homophobic comments made this week by ANC Mayor James Mthethwa.
The party’s Zakhele Mbhele, MP and DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Police, said in a statement that the mayor’s remarks, “made on a public platform” have “no place in our society.”
He announced that the DA will report Mthethwa, Mayor of the Umzinyathi District in KwaZulu-Natal, to the SAHRC and will ask the commission to investigate his offensive and unconstitutional comments.
Speaking at the launch of a community health workers training project, Mthethwa blamed gay men for spreading HIV. He said that, “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.”
“It goes without saying that this statement is discriminatory and amounts to hate speech,” insisted Mbhele.
As reported by the Sowetan, Mthethwa also revealed that community workers in the area would be conducting a door-to-door campaign to educate locals about “the dangers of homosexuality.”
“Mthethwa’s comments demonstrate that, despite their constitutionally protected rights to equality and human dignity, the LGBTI community is still subjected to a considerable amount of discrimination,” said Mbhele, who in May last year became Africa’s first openly-gay black male MP.
“Reckless statements from community leaders such as Mthethwa no doubt breed the deep-seated prejudices against members of the LGBTI community that are still so prevalent in society.” He added that these kinds of statements “not only provide the public with incorrect information but also fuel the victimisation and stigma that members of the LGBTI community have to face on a daily basis.”
The ANC had failed to issue a statement on the matter at the time of posting this article. (Update: The ANC has since spoken out on the issue.)