ConCourt rules Qwelane article is tantamount to hate speech

Qwelane penned an article in the Sunday Sun newspaper in 2008 titled: 'Call Me Names – But Gay Is Not Ok'.

FILE: Jon Qwelane. Picture: YouTube screengrab.

JOHANNESBURG - The Constitutional Court on Friday ruled that an article by journalist Jon Qwelane was tantamount to hate speech and that a provision in Constitution with the word hurtful needed to be adjusted.

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Qwelane penned an article in the Sunday Sun newspaper in 2008 titled: Call Me Names – But Gay Is Not Ok.

This was met with more than 350 complaints sent to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

Qwelane caused widespread offence in his article when he compared gay and lesbian people to animals, saying they were responsible for the rapid degeneration of values in society.

The matter was referred by the SAHRC to the Equality Court but Qwelane challenged the Equality Act which defined and prohibited hate speech.

In a joint sitting of the equality and high court, Qwelane claimed that the definition was too broad.

The court ruled against Qwelane and the matter travelled to the appeals court and ultimately the Constitutional Court.

That court found that the term “hurtful” needed to be removed from the Equality Act, giving Parliament 24 months to remedy this, saying it was a constitutional limitation.

But Qwelane’s article was found to be hate speech as it had been clearly harmful and incited hatred.

He passed away last December.

He had been appointed South Africa's ambassador to Uganda in 2010.

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