Pastor Oscar Bougardt
LGBT+ South Africans are calling for the Cape Town High Court to take action against hate pastor Oscar Bougardt for flagrantly contravening a hate speech court order.
A petition, launched just a few days ago, has seen more than 2,600 people signing up to demand that the preacher be jailed for contempt of court.
Bougardt has violated two court actions ordering him to stop making statements that are “discriminatory or incite hatred or harm on the grounds of sexual orientation” in violation of the Equality Act.
Most recently, in May 2018, Bougardt narrowly avoided prison with a suspended 30-day contempt of court sentence for his hate speech. The suspended sentence was on condition that he kept to the terms of a 2014 court-approved agreement between him and the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
Since then Bougardt has continued to repeatedly violate the agreement, making anti-LGBT comments on his Facebook page on an ongoing basis. He has also not stuck to his commitment to the court to end his relationship with American hate pastor Steven Anderson. A promised apology to the LGBT community has also failed to materialise.
Recently, Bougardt met with Anderson (who has been declared an undesirable person in South Africa by Home Affairs) in the USA for an anti-Semitic conference, and was quoted calling gay people “f*gs” by the Daily Voice. More than five months after the High Court ruling in May no action has been taken against Bougardt.
These developments, and frustration at years of Bougardt’s unrestrained public hate, have led Luiz De Barros, editor of leading LGBT news site Mambaonline.com, to create the petition addressed to the SAHRC and the Department of Justice.
De Barros and the petitioners are calling for the SAHRC, which originally filed the hate speech charges against Bougardt on behalf of numerous complainants, to take him back to court for contempt of court. If found guilty, he should serve his 30 days in jail.
“We want the SAHRC to address this matter with urgency and to prioritise this case,” De Barros says. “Bougard is acting with impunity and making a mockery of the SAHRC, the Equality Act, the Equality Courts and the LGBT community.”
De Barros continues: “South Africa’s LGBT community is plagued by hate crimes and hate speech, often motivated by religious intolerance and bigotry. While freedoms of speech and religion are important, these should not be used to blatantly perpetuate hatred against marginalised groups. Our Constitution and laws agree on this, and the courts have taken firm action when it comes to racism. It is time that an example is made to show that unbridled homophobic and transphobic hate speech is equally not acceptable.”
To view or sign the Change.org petition please click here.