In an astonishing development, South Africa’s Film and Publication Board (FPB) has shared a fake news story on social media claiming that the LGBT community supports pedophilia.
On Thursday, the organisation, which is tasked with classifying films, games and certain publications in the country, shared a link to a deceitful article that claimed that a new letter had been added to the LGBT acronym.
The letter, “P”, purports the article, represents “Pedosexual”.
In effect suggesting that this is a matter of fact, the FPB wrote along with the link:
“A new symbol has been added to the LGBTQi called Pedosexual (P). It is defined as being or constituting pedosexuality, sexual activity between an adult and a child. Here is an interesting article on the subject… what are your thoughts?”
This fake and preposterous claim has been propagated by right-wing and religious anti-LGBT groups. It perpetuates the long-standing, harmful and false belief that homosexuality, in particular, is linked to the abuse of children.
The FPB tweet was met with outrage and was later deleted. On Friday, the organisation issued a statement apologising “for posting a tweet of a ‘fake news’ article that infers that the LGBTIQ community condones pedophilia within the community”.
It continued: “The FPB understands that the article and image was a hoax that was spread. As an organization that advocates for responsible sharing of content, we should have conducted thorough research regarding the topic and shared factual and credible information.
“The FPB was trying to raise awareness to the phenomenon of pedosexual behavior towards children and as the FPB we would strongly condemn such abuse of children. In our attempt to be proactive in raising awareness, we inadvertently contributed in the sharing of fake news.
“The FPB intends to revive partnerships and has partnered in numerous, successful projects that not only protect the rights of the LGBTIQ but also the joint venture for the protection of children from harmful content and sexual predators,” it said.
While the FPB has supported some LGBT-affirming initiatives such as The Feather Awards, it has also – in its seemingly blinding obsession with “protecting children” – made a number of dubious homophobic bedfellows over the years.
The FPB, for example, has worked closely with the Family Policy Institute (FPI), a Christian fundamentalist lobby group run by homophobic Pastor Errol Naidoo, which is openly anti-LGBT and seeks to repeal LGBT rights and marriage equality in South Africa.
The FPB has also provided support and knowledge to Kenya’s virulently homophobic censors. In March 2016, we reported that the FBP had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) that would see the two parties collaborating.
The organisation has consistently refused to reveal the content of the agreement and also refused to condemn the KFCB’s homophobic attacks on freedom of expression and human rights violations against the LGBT community.
The FPB has furthermore been accused of seeking to become more authoritarian and expanding its oversight over more media, including the internet. The Right2Know campaign has criticised the FPB’s controversial Films and Publications Amendment Bill – also known as the “Internet Censorship Bill” – which the group claims “contains serious censorship clauses and is unconstitutional”.
The FPB’s latest embarrassing and damaging action will only add to concerns that it is determined to carry out its ‘big brother’ agenda at all costs, even if it tramples on LGBT equality and other civil liberties.