Jon Qwelane found guilty of hate speech

Jon Qwelane (Supplied)
Jon Qwelane (Supplied)

Johannesburg - Former ambassador to Uganda Jon Qwelane was found guilty of hate speech, in the South Gauteng High Court on Friday. 

"The offending statement is hurtful, harmful and incites propaganda hate towards the LGBT community," Judge Dimpheletse Moshidi said.

Moshidi said that Qwelane must turn to the LGBT community with an unconditional apology within 30 days. 

The apology must be published in the Sunday Sun or any national Sunday newspaper, and the proof of the published apology must be brought to court. 

Qwelane must pay all costs of the proceedings, including those of the postponements and senior council. 

The matter would be referred to the SAPS for further investigation.

In his column headlined, Call me names, but gay is not okay, Qwelane expressed his opinion about homosexuals.

The column was published in the Sunday Sun on July 20, 2008.

In the 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.

Qwelane wrote, "There could be a few things I could take issue with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, but his unflinching and unapologetic stance over homosexuals is definitely not among those."

In April 2011 the Johannesburg Equality Court found him guilty of hate speech. He was ordered to apologise and fined R100 000. However, he was not present at the default judgment because of his job abroad, and the judgment was withdrawn on September 1, 2011.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) subsequently initiated proceedings against him again.

At his last court appearance the court heard that his column was harmful and hurtful towards the gay and lesbian community.

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi for the the SAHRC argued at the time the commission had received 350 complaints in relation to the article – which is the highest number it has ever received.

Ngcukaitobi said the words contained in the column had negative psychological and emotional effects on the gay and lesbian community.

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