'Heel-dragging' on ban of anti-gay pastor
Durban - The Ministry of Home Affairs appears to be dragging its heels on a decision on whether to ban anti-gay US pastor Steven Anderson from entering the country next month.
The ministry was placed on terms to make a decision on the matter last month by the South African Human Rights Commission, which sent a letter to Minister Malusi Gigaba and director general Mkuseli Apleni.
The commission, which had received complaints about the visit from outraged lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities, asked the ministry to make a decision based on legislation that allows a person to be banned for being “undesirable”.
The commission received no reply to its first letter and a second was sent on August 2.
On social media, people have commented that the ministry’s handling of the Anderson complaint appears to be in contrast with the way the government dealt with several visa applications by the Dalai Lama.
While the SA government has denied that it refused the Dalai Lama’s visa applications, it has been reported that the religious leader’s trips to SA in 2009, 2012 and 2014 were cancelled after his visa application was not processed or delayed for so long that he would not have obtained a visa in time.
Anderson, who is scheduled to preach in Johannesburg on September 18 according to his church’s website, is widely known for his anti-gay sentiments on social media.
He drew a severe backlash after he praised the June shooting at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, in which 49 people were killed, in a YouTube video. Anderson allegedly said while it had not been “right for someone to shoot up the place, these people should have been killed anyway”.
The complainants said that Anderson had expressed “hateful, harmful and hurtful” statements towards members of LGBTI communities on the website of his church, the Faithful World Baptist Church on various occasions.
But Home Affairs spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete told The Mercury on Tuesday that the ministry had responded to the commission “two weeks ago” and a date was being arranged for the parties to meet and discuss the matter.
Tshwete said the Minister sympathised with the LGBTI communities who were upset by news of Anderson’s visit.
“The minister’s view is that whatever is to be done in this matter has to be carried within the prescripts of the law.”
Attorney Coenraad Kukkuk, who is acting pro bono for the complainants, said the matter was “clear” from a legal perspective. In terms of the Immigration Act, the minister or director general could declare Anderson undesirable in terms of section 29 or section 30 of the Act.
Section 29 states that a person can be declared undesirable if they are a “member of or adherent to an association or organisation advocating the practice of racial hatred or social violence”.
Section 30 states that a person can be declared undesirable if “identified as such by the Minister”.
Kukkuk said if the commission did not bring a high court application to compel the minister to make a decision, the complainants would consider it.
“Going to court would be the only option, but I am acting pro bono and it is expensive to bring a high court application,” he said.
Pastor Steven Anderson, who has said homosexual people deserve to be killed, plans to visit South Africa next month, evoking outrage from gay and lesbian groups.