OUT LGBT Well-being and MambaOnline publish a monthly overview of reported LGBTIQ+ rights violations in South Africa. We also look at the status of cases making their way through the criminal justice system. Here is our summary for November 2022.
- An online advert for Vodacom featuring a queer-presenting model saw hundreds of social media users responding with vitriol and hatred; attacking the model and LGBTIQ+ visibility in general. Without any fear of repercussions, they spewed queerphobic – particularly transphobic – slurs and jibes. Vodacom condemned the queerphobia and deleted comments that were deemed hate speech. Despite this incident, the company reaffirmed its commitment to diversity and inclusion and stated that “we are pleased to represent the LGBTQIA+ community in our campaigns and creative work and will continue to do so.”
- More than 40 LGBTIQ+ and allied organisations were forced to issue a joint statement in response to a vocal backlash against proposed new Department of Education guidelines that aim to make South African schools safer for LGBTIQ+ learners. In particular, the proposal that schools should consider having a unisex bathroom was used by conservative and religious groups to fuel a “queer panic” among parents. In the statement, the LGBTIQ+ and allied organisations noted that the guidelines “categorically do not direct schools to replace all single-sex bathrooms and change facilities with ‘unisex’ ones’” but instead “encourage schools to make gender-neutral facilities available to gender non-conforming learners”. They called on members of the public to “apply their own minds to the document, and not to be misled by deliberate campaigns of disinformation, which exploit parents’ fears and manufacture panic with patently false claims about what the guidelines are, and what they seek to achieve.”
- The Kyknet talk show Sê jou Sê (have your say) was criticised for giving Oscar Bougardt, the Cape Town pastor convicted of LGBTIQ+ hate speech, a platform to debate LGBTIQ+ existence and air his harmful views on national television. Bougardt was one of two guests in the problematically titled episode, “Is it okay to be gay?” He used the opportunity to claim that homosexuality is a “choice”, is similar to gangsterism and drug abuse, and that LGBTIQ+ people ” prey on our children”. Homebrew Films, the Sê jou Sê production company, defended the programme as “an amazing debate and way of bringing contentious issues of serious matters that happen in all our communities, under the viewers’ attention.” Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) commented that “homophobic bile cannot be tolerated under the guise of ‘freedom of speech and expression’ as many bigots would like to believe.”
- Candice van Eck, a quantity surveyor from Gqeberha, came forward with her account of how Cape Town-based online jeweller Craig Marks refused to make and sell her a diamond engagement ring because her partner is a woman. Owner Craig Mark Quinton told the couple that he does “not provide rings for the purposes of engagement or marriage for same sex couples,” adding that “this is out of faith towards God…” Van Eck told Mamba: “It’s meant to be something special and he made me feel that I’m doing something completely wrong.” Quinton’s refusal to serve the women violates the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act and the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. “Business owners cannot deny services to LGBTIQ+ people based on their personal religious beliefs,” said OUT’s Human Rights Manager, Lerato Phalakatshela. OUT has offered to assist the couple with legal advice in taking the matter further.
- Two workplace incidents were reported in November. OUT is assisting a gay man from Cape Town to address alleged ongoing workplace discrimination. The man claims he has been defamed, harassed, bullied and intimidated by his employer. The employer is also alleged to have threatened the victim with dismissal. The case has been lodged with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
- In the second incident, Action for Social Justice International is investigating the alleged discrimination of a transgender police station employee in Mpumalanga. The individual claims to have been targeted by her colleagues and union. The victim has laid a complaint of harassment against the alleged perpetrators.
REPORT LGBTIQ+ RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
If you’ve experienced or witnessed an LGBTIQ+ hate crime, hate speech or any other kind of LGBTIQ+ rights discrimination in South Africa, you can now report it anonymously on your phone at no cost.
- Simply dial *134*382*5# and follow the instructions. If you wish, you can request to be called back for support.
NB: South African phone companies have a pre-set time limit. After 120 seconds you will lose connection. However, if you redial *134*382*5# you can start where you left off.