‘Porn’ teacher backlash

2014-09-15 00:00

THE arrest of a Durban drama teacher on a string of child pornography charges has created an environment of fear, with experts saying the gay community had suffered.

The openly gay 48-year-old educator faces 11 charges pertaining to making, possession and soliciting child pornography and was arrested three weeks ago.

Durban Democratic Alliance councillor and gay rights advocate Martin Meyer said that the actions of the teacher had blighted the homosexual community at large.

“The problem we would now encounter is for the openly gay teachers and the stigma attached to their sexual orientations. People will often quite wrongly associate homosexuality with paedophilia and that is the mind-set we need to oppose,” he said.

“This is something we see often and it has in effect become a common narrative. When matters like this are thrown into the public domain the facts seem to be side-lined because of the overwhelming public fear.”

Meyer said the fact that heterosexual men make up the large majority of sex offenders was often glossed over.

“I have experience from my background as a registered social worker and I have dealt with many child abuse cases. We would see things like this happening all the time and what is valuable to remember is that in most child abuse cases, the perpetrators were heterosexual.”

Meyer added that the solution would be found in education and dialogue.

“We need to get everyone around a table and make sure that people are well-informed. I think what we need are a couple of high-profile figures in the gay community who are open about the sexual preference to come out and make clear that this is not the norm.”

He weighed in on whether or not the teacher should be granted bail when he appears in court on Thursday.

“This becomes a very emotive issue especially when children are involved and it needs to be decided on the merits of the case. After all he remains innocent until proven guilty, but if he poses a danger he should be kept inside,” Meyer added.

Durban Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Centre head Nonhlanhla Mkhize said that a sweeping generalisation based on the fact that the teacher is gay is unwise.

“We need to be very careful — more so in this case — that we do not let the behaviour of one man taint the image of an entire community,” she said.

“Just because some men are rapists doesn’t mean that they all are, and that same school of thought applies here. His irresponsibility and deviancy should not affect every teacher who is openly gay,” she said.

Mkhize added that gay teachers in the arts should be lauded, and the fear existed that they may now face victimisation.

“We in no way condone what has been done to these boys but it is out of order to apply a blanket mind-set. Other gay teachers in the arts are doing a fantastic job. The worrying possibility is that other teachers who are gay but have not come out may now be too afraid to do so.”

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