Jon Qwelane to challenge equality act

2013-08-28 14:26

South African ambassador to Uganda Jon Qwelane is to launch a constitutional challenge in the High Court in Johannesburg to certain provisions of the equality legislation.

“We will launch our constitutional challenge on September 27,” his lawyer Andrew Boerner said today.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) was expected to file a response within 20 days of that date. The matter could be heard within the next three months.

Boerner said his client would challenge sections 10 and 11 of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act. Section 10 deals with hate speech and section 11 with harassment.

He was speaking after a directions hearing in the High Court in Johannesburg to go through all the procedural matters regarding an SAHRC hate speech case against Qwelane.

“It [the hearing] was also held to obtain a way forward, which for us would be the constitutional challenge,” Boerner said.

In April 2011, Qwelane was found guilty of hate speech but was not present at the default judgment due to his job abroad.

On September 1, 2011, the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court withdrew the judgment.

Qwelane’s counsel argued at the time the default judgment was not allowed and that a direction hearing needed to be convened before such a judgment could be handed down.

While still working as a journalist in 2008, Qwelane wrote a column published by the Sunday Sun in which he expressed his opinion about homosexuals.

The column was headlined “Call me names, but gay is NOT okay”.

Qwelane was ordered to apologise through the Sunday Sun and to pay R100 000 to the commission. The money was to be used to promote gay rights.

On Wednesday, the high court heard an application by the Psychological Society of SA to join proceedings as amicus curiae.

The application was unopposed and an order was granted.

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