OUT LGBT Well-being applauds the Western Cape Division of the Equality Court for upholding Cape Town pastor Oscar Bougardt’s LGBTIQ+ hate speech order, although we are disappointed that he was not jailed for contempt of court.
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) last week informed the complainants involved in the case that Bougardt appeared before the Equality Court on a contempt of court charge in August. This stemmed from his continued attacks against the LGBTIQ+ community.
In 2018, Bougardt was handed a 30-day jail sentence, which was suspended for five years, after the Western Cape High Court found him guilty of violating a 2014 order that prohibited his anti-LGBTIQ+ hate speech.
In blatant disregard of this sanction, he persisted in expressing his virulent views on social media and even on television. For instance, in November 2022, he asserted on the Kyknet talk show “Sê jou Sê”, that LGBTIQ+ people pose a predatory danger to children. Following an online petition started by OUT calling for him to be jailed and several complaints submitted to the SAHRC, he was served with contempt of court papers, leading to his latest appearance.
On 21 August 2023, the court ruled that Bougardt was indeed in contempt and sentenced him to nine months in prison. However, this sentence was once again suspended for five years, provided he refrains from violating the court order.
Bougardt was explicitly prohibited from publishing, posting, disseminating, commenting on, or sharing any statements concerning sexual orientation on all social media platforms and websites.
While OUT is encouraged by the court’s stance against hate speech in South Africa, Bougardt continues to evade the consequences of his actions.
According to Sibonelo Ncanana, OUT’s Human Rights Coordinator, “It’s been almost a decade since Oscar Bougardt was brought before the Equality Court for his homophobic statements, including calls for the execution and imprisonment of gay individuals. It is concerning that despite flagrantly violating two court orders in that time, he has yet to face punishment. Should he choose to infringe on the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community once again, we hope the courts will show no further leniency in jailing this notorious hate preacher.”
Equality Courts and Their Significance
Established by the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2000, Equality Courts address cases involving unfair discrimination, hate speech, and harassment based on various grounds, including race, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.
These courts are accessible through any Magistrates’ Court throughout the country, with no associated costs for complainants who also do not require legal representation. OUT recently published an easy-to-understand online guide detailing the step-by-step process of utilising these courts, which can be found here: https://out.org.za/the-equality-courts-101-what-u-need-to-know/