Jon Qwelane is accused of hate speech. Picture: Lori Waselchuk/African News Agency (ANA).
Jon Qwelane is accused of hate speech. Picture: Lori Waselchuk/African News Agency (ANA).

Columnist Jon Qwelane back in Concourt over homophobic slur

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published May 7, 2020

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Johannesburg - Controversial former South African high commissioner to Uganda, Jon Qwelane, is back at the Constitutional Court on Thursday to defend his decade-old “Call me names, but gay is not okay” newspaper column.

Qwelane stands by his column, in which he made disparaging comments about gay people.

The law under which Qwelane was charged was declared unconstitutional and invalid by the Supreme Court of Appeal in November.

Qwelane wants the apex court to confirm the declaration of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (Pepuda) as unconstitutional and invalid, and allow Parliament a period of 18 months to take steps to remedy its invalidity.

The former diplomat, who was appointed by former president Jacob Zuma, has told the court that Pepuda unjustifiably limits his constitutional rights. In his written submission, Qwelane says the Constitution recognised that some forms of speech do not warrant constitutional protection, but the threshold for limiting speech is set at the high-water mark of advocacy for hatred that constitutes an incitement to cause harm.

“It is clear that the article does not amount to propaganda for war, nor is there an incitement to imminent violence,” the former Radio 702 presenter said.

Qwelane maintained that his views fell within the protection of the Constitution. 

Political Bureau

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