Rights activists lashed out at journalist over column in which he says same-sex parents should tell their children the set-up was not normal or desirable.

Cape Town - Internet users and gay rights activists have lashed out at Stephen Mulholland after an opinion piece by the columnist was printed in last weekend’s Sunday Times.

The column, titled “Same-sex parents have a special duty to their children”, concludes that same-sex parents must be “frank with their children that such arrangements are neither the norm nor ultimately desirable”.

Users on Twitter have lashed out at the views offered throughout the piece, calling Mulholland “backwards”, “homophobic” and “intolerant”.

Sipho Hlongwane, reacting to Mulholland’s claim the idea of same-sex marriage flies in the face of natural law, tweeted: “Other things once defended in the name of ‘natural law’: Slavery, colonialism, racism, misogyny.”

“I like how Mulholland thinks we can draw norms re sexuality and child rearing from nature, where males are quite often just sperm donors,” chirped in Charl du Plessis.

Mulholland appeared on Eusebius McKaiser’s radio show on 702 CapeTalk yesterday morning to defend his views but many users on Twitter were left more furious than before.

“Jesus Christ. Stephen Mulholland is coming across completely BIZARRE on 702. Has he had a stroke or something?” tweeted Rebecca Davis.

Pierre de Vos, Claude Leon Foundation chairman in constitutional governance at the University of Cape Town, wrote on his blog Constitutionally Speaking that most of Mulholland’s piece, which among other things, details an early and seemingly isolated encounter with a gay man, is given over to patronising remarks of the “some-of-my-best-friends-are-black” variety.

“Unlike Mulholland, I believe every parent – whether in a same-sex relationship or otherwise – has the ethical duty to tell their children that loving and caring relationships (whether between members of the same or of opposite sexes) are desirable but that bigotry never is,” said De Vos.

Cape Town author Lidia Theron, who wrote the book I Back My Daughter Unconditionally, wherein she details how she came to accept her gay daughter, said Mulholland’s column was “incredibly backwards”.

She said Mulholland’s claim that same-sex parents were not normal was disgusting.

“It is the same as to expect any other father and mother to tell their children that they are not normal, but expect the children to be normal,” she said.

Dawie Nel, director for OUT, a local organisation that provides health services and counselling to gay, bisexual and transgendered South Africans, said while the message in the piece was backwards, there was no point in calling for an outright ban of these sort of pieces.

“While it’s worrying, we still need to talk about it,” he said.

Xander Flemming, a psychologist at OUT, said it was regrettable Mulholland used unfounded statements.

“The face of the family has changed and one cannot only use a hetero-normative model to define the structure of families today,” he said.

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Cape Argus