Gay Durban councillor victim of resident’s homophobic campaign

Martin Meyer

Martin Meyer

An openly gay councillor in the EThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal has finally responded to a resident who has been repeatedly sending him homophobic hate mail.

Speaking out on his Facebook page, DA Councillor Martin Meyer revealed that the “gentleman” had been harassing him for almost five months.

“Since May you have been e-mailing,” Meyer said. “I especially liked the one where you told me that you pray for my parents that they will be forgiven for their failures as parents. I never responded to you, except when you asked for my boss’ email, as I do not usually justify people’s hate with a response. But now I will break that rule.”

Meyer went on to write: “As you stated, my sexuality is public knowledge. It has been written in media reports, and I have never hidden it from the voters. I have spoken about it in some of the churches in the area, and have fielded questions about it from residents. With all of this, the people of Ward 27 kindly re-elected me with 77.1% of the votes (an increase from 2011).

“It is thus clear that you are in the minority. But fear not – The Democratic Alliance will continue to fight for the rights of minorities, as they fight for the rights of all South Africans. I thus give you my word, I will continue to represent you in council, and I will be available to assist if you if ever you need my help.

“I respect your freedom of religion. I respect that you have certain views based on your interpretation of your religion. As I have a Masters degree in Theology, I would love to engage with you on those views. But you must also respect my views, my private life, and you must respect the wishes of 13 272 of your fellow Ward 27 residents.

“I look forward to hear from you whenever you have a problem [that] you need my assistance with, and I will do my best to assist, as I always try to ensure that my ‘perversions’ [do] not interfere with my work,” concluded Meyer.

The councillor told Mambaonline that the man had sent him five or six emails since May in a concerted campaign against him. He has also emailed the local media and the DA’s provincial chairperson ahead of the August elections, “requesting that they don’t let me be the candidate because I am gay”.

Meyer revealed that he’d also received a number of anonymous threatening phonecalls. While he has his suspicions, he cannot confirm that the calls were made by the same person who e-mailed him.

The man’s complaints against Meyer are based on the belief that because the area is predominantly Christian and Muslim, the councillor does not share the “values” of the community and thus is not fit to represent the residents.

“He also said that there are schools in the areas and that I cannot be trusted around children,” added Meyer.

Meyer said that he had mixed feelings about the harassment. “On the one hand there are many people in South Africa that have to go through worse than angry emails – these are not serious compared to what some people face on a daily basis – but it also makes me concerned that in this day and age one can still get this kind of abuse and people who have these kinds of mindsets.”

Meyer noted, however, that the response from most residents, who have given him their support, has been “encouraging and amazing”.

He is considering his legal options and may approach the SA Human Rights Commission about the matter.

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