The Love Not Hate campaign is shocked by media reports that the hate speech case against Jon Qwelane has been postponed due to his ill health. According to his legal representatives, the former journalist may never be able to attend the trial.
The case has now dragged on for eight years, with Qwelane refusing to accept his 2011 hate speech conviction for writing a homophobic article and subsequently challenging the constitutionality of the Equality Act.
"This is extremely disappointing. Almost a decade later we have been unable to bring Qwelane to account for his homophobic hate speech," commented Lerato Phalakatshela, Hate Crime Manager at OUT LGBT Well-being and spokesperson for the Love Not Hate campaign.
"While Qwelane may very well be ill, this case is about more than his article. It is about ensuring that the Equality Act is upheld. Although freedom of speech is a vital component of our democracy, there should be consequences for those who seek to dehumanise and degrade a minority that faces the daily potential of violent and deadly attacks.
"The legal system has let us down for eight years. We hope that there is still some way to bring this matter to a conclusion that affirms the dignity and rights of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) people," Phalakatshela said.
He added: "Let’s not forget that delays and postponements are a hallmark of many LGBTI hate crime cases, including those that involve rape and often deadly violence. We urge the government to speed up the enactment of the pending Hate Crimes Bill so as to legally define these acts and to improve access to justice for our community."
Learn more about hate crimes at www.lovenothate.org.za.
ABOUT LOVE NOT HATE
Love Not Hate is collaboration between seven South African civil society organisations in Gauteng, the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal. The programme works with government and other partners to bring awareness about LGBTI hate crimes to the public and service providers. This includes assisting LGBTI persons to report incidents of violence and to navigate the justice system, as well as tracking hate crimes.
The Love Not Hate partners are: Access Chapter 2; Durban Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre; Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (Gala); Gay and Lesbian Network; OUT LGBTI Well-being; Social, Health and Empowerment Feminist Collective of Transgender Women of Africa (SHE); and Triangle Project. The programme is funded by the Global Equality Fund.