The Department of Home Affairs has expressed support for the online petition meant to stop American anti-gay pastor Steven Anderson from coming to South Africa.
However the department says it may not have the power to deny him the visa.
The petition‚ which had already gained over 2000 signatures by yesterday morning and has since grown to 5000‚ is meant to lobby Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba to deny Anderson entry on the grounds that he may be coming to SA to “promote hate speech”.
“We fully support the online petition. We will take it to the Human Rights Commission,” Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete told City Press.
However, he said that it may prove difficult to stop the pastor from coming to SA because the comments he allegedly made were not stated on South African soil.
“If someone from another country says something whilst not in the country we have no power to stop them from coming,” he said.
It was announced earlier this week that Anderson would host an event on September 18 in Kempton Park.
But the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community in South Africa is against his visit, saying he was coming “to bring his unique brand of hate to South Africa”.
“This cannot be tolerated or allowed as LGBTI rights are protected by the Constitution‚ and there is already enough homophobia – the flames of which do not need fanning‚” stated the petition posted on change.org
After the June 12 massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida in the US, Anderson posted a video in which he said there are “less paedophiles” in the world. Forty-nine people were killed in the mass shooting at the gay nightclub.
Anderson, who heads the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona, lashed out on June 24th at activists who successfully petitioned businesses like PayPal and Apple to shut down his accounts after his hate speech.
“It’s war. You know what the filthy sodomites have done toward our church and us, and our friends and our fellow pastors that actually have the guts to say what needs to be said? Here’s what they’ve done in the last few weeks,” he told his congregation.
“They got our PayPal account shut down so that we can’t take anymore online donations. We set up with another company, GivLet, they got that shut down. Qgiv, they got that shut down. BitPay, they got that shut down. They shut down our iTunes podcast. They shut down Brother Jimenez’s PayPal account. They shut down Brother Romero’s PayPal account … The landlord of Pastor Jimenez is saying, ‘hey we’re not going to renew your lease’”.
Hendrik Baird who started the online petition said: “We started an online petition on Wednesday and it is doing well and other organisations are supporting our campaign. The petition has over 5000 supporters; that shows that people fully support us.
Baird, station manager at GaySA Radio, wrote letters to Spur in Festival mall, Wimpy and Premier Hotel at OR Tambo International Airport pleading with them not to accommodate the pastor.
The Premier Hotels and Resorts Group have decided to decline bookings by Anderson at the Premier Hotel OR Tambo on the 18th of September 2016 where he was supposed to preach.
“Some of the contents of his sermons contradict the Bill of Rights contained within the South African Constitution,” said Baird.
Human Rights Commission spokesperson Gail Smith said the matter should be referred to the Commission for the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities as this relates to a religious matter.