Lesbians threatened with being 'f**ked so hard they will turn straight', court hears in Qwelane case

2017-03-07 14:31
Jon Qwelane (File: Supplied)

Jon Qwelane (File: Supplied)

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Johannesburg – The executive director of People Against Women Abuse (POWA) told the High Court in Johannesburg that the 2008 article by South Africa’s former ambassador to Uganda, Jon Qwelane, was discriminating and offensive to the gay and lesbian community.

Dressed in a black dress and jacket, Nonhlanhla Mokwena took a stand on Tuesday morning and testified that Qwelane's column incited violence against homosexuals.

"The article was discriminating against the LGBTI community. The article is offensive," she said.

The Sunday Sun published the column in July 2008 by Qwelane titled "Call me names, but gay is not okay".

The court gallery was packed to capacity with POWA members. Some members whispered in agreement when Mokwena gave her testimony.

When Qwelane's lawyer Musatondwa Musandiwa asked her if the organisation had received complaints due to the article, Mokwena said, "No, we didn't."

Mokwena said Qwelane was in a position of influence and should have instead used the media to build up communities.

'Violated and harassed'

"There is already a huge stigma of being an LGBTI person in the community. Discrimination is a problem where already they are being violated and harassed.

"Homosexuality is not a lifestyle...you don't stop being a lesbian – you are born a lesbian," she said.

Mokwena said they have had a number of cases in their Katlehong branch, including a case where a man said to a lesbian woman that: "Lesbians are lesbians because they have not encountered sexual pleasure. It is disgusting and against nature what they do. I would fuck you so hard, you will forget that you are a lesbian and become a straight woman."

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) received 350 complaints against Qwelane about his column – which it said was the highest number it had ever received for one incident.

In his column, which was accompanied by a cartoon of a man marrying a goat, Qwelane lauded Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's "unflinching and unapologetic stance" on homosexuality.

"When you say people are dogs or pigs, you are dehumanising (them)," Mokwena said.

Qwelane was not in court on Tuesday to attend the hearing due to poor health.

Guilty of hate speech

His lawyer said on Monday that he had collapsed at a shopping mall in Boksburg.

The matter was previously postponed because Qwelane was not well.

In April 2011, the Johannesburg Equality Court found him guilty of hate speech for his column.

He was ordered to apologise and was fined R100 000. He was not present at the default judgment because of his job abroad. The judgment was withdrawn on September 1, 2011.

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

In August 2013, the court heard that Qwelane intended challenging the constitutionality of certain sections of the Equality Act.

The SAHRC later initiated proceedings against him again.

The hearing continues.

Read more on:    jon qwelane  |  johannesburg  |  equality  |  lgbti rights

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