EFF leader Julius Malema (right) says that Professor Lumumba’s homophobia is an “opinion” that shouldn’t be censored
The EFF’s decision to host a virulently anti-LGBTIQ+ speaker at its upcoming 10th-anniversary lecture has been widely criticised as hypocritical.
Earlier this week, the party announced that Professor Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba had been invited to address the EFF 10th Anniversary Public Lecture at the University of Cape Town on 24 July.
Lumumba, the former Director and CEO of the Kenya School of Law, has been described as a notable Pan-Africanist. Unfortunately, he is also a homophobe who believes in jailing, “curing” and even executing members of the LGBTIQ+ community.
“All Africans of goodwill should congratulate Ugandan Parliamentarians and their President YK. Museveni for defying Western Countries and doing the right thing,” he wrote, adding “We must define ourselves as Africans.”
In a recent video interview, Lumumba was unambiguous about his bigoted views. “Sex against the order of nature is wrong” he insisted. He went on to state, “If you are to ask me a single question… ‘are you homophobic?’, my answer is yes! They are sick! They ought to be cured.”
Lumumba’s support for a law that is a gross human rights violation stands in contrast with the EFF’s stated LGBTIQ+ allyship and opposition to the Ugandan legislation. In April, party leader Julius Malema – described by Lumumba as “my very good friend” – led a high-profile march on Uganda’s High Commission in Pretoria to condemn the legislation.
Reacting to criticisms of the EFF’s choice of guest speaker, Malema said on Twitter: “You don’t censor a different opinion on your platforms simply because you disagree. Allowing different views makes a discourse even more exciting.”
Renowned fashion designer Thula Sindi snapped back at Malema’s disingenuous justification, tweeting that: “Humanity & Right to exist is not an opinion or a debate. You know this very well when it comes to Blackness but somehow forget that fact when it comes to other people.”
Almost 50 UCT students and academic staff have also voiced their objection to Lumumba’s speech in a letter to the university’s Interim Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Transformation, Student Affairs, and Social Responsiveness.
“Allowing a self-admitted homophobe to continue with a public lecture on our campus signals to LGBTIQA+ staff and students that we are not valued or safe in our workplace and place of study,” said the signatories.
They acknowledged that freedom of speech is central to the notion of academic freedom but argued that “it cannot be mobilised to justify promoting homophobia or any prejudice that causes harm and potentially death to already marginalised individuals and communities – in South Africa and elsewhere.”
The academics called on the University of Cape Town “to rescind the permission granted to the EFF to host Prof. Lumumba.”
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act imposes several severe penalties, including life imprisonment for engaging in homosexual acts, the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality, and a 20-year prison term for “promoting” or advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.
According to the new law, landlords face up to seven years in prison if they knowingly allow “any premises to be used by any person for purposes of homosexuality.” Minors engaging in homosexual acts can face three years in prison.