Deon de Lange
THE DA has called for the suspension of ANC MP Patekile Holomisa, chairman of Parliament’s constitutional review committee and president of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA (Contralesa), following his claim that the vast majority of citizens do not wish to promote – let alone protect – the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians.
And far from apologising for these comments, Contralesa stuck to its guns yesterday, with general secretary Kgosi Setlamorago Thobejane taking to the airwaves to repeat calls for the removal of constitutional protections for gays, urging the government to do away with the Civil Union Act, which legalised same-sex marriages, and for President Jacob Zuma to hold a referendum on the issue of same-sex unions.
Holomisa is reported to have told City Press this weekend that, while gay people should not be “molested and raped”, homosexuality was a “condition that occurred when certain cultural rituals have not been performed”.
“Once you take them (gays) to a spiritual healer they (the healers) tell you it’s because some ritual hasn’t been performed. But when rituals are done, the person starts to behave like other people in society. I don’t know how it works for people in other cultures and those who live in urban areas.”
In an interview on CapeTalk yesterday, Kgosi Thobejane told journalist Redi Tlhabi that while gays “have got the right to live in SA”, it was wrong to have a law which “regulates or legitimises a situation which is unnatural”.
“We cannot say these people should be wished away out of SA. But we should not go to the extent of putting that particular clause in the constitution,” he said.
Asked by Tlhabi how sexual orientation harmed him or his constituents, Kgosi Thobejane said traditional leaders “are accountable not only to you who are alive” but also to “our ancestors and to future generations”.
He said laws that “legitimise” homosexuality would influence future generations and “in the long run when 70 percent of the population is following that trend that we have set – when the majority of South Africans (belong to) same-sex communities, how then do we account to the future generations?”
He also complained that same-sex couples were adopting children to have a “normal family”.
“The question is, how do you make sure that the children you are adopting have got the right to articulate whether they are for or are not for (same-sex parents).”
DA MP Watty Watson said yesterday that Holomisa’s utterances “have no place in an egalitarian and progressive democracy such as ours”.
Watson welcomed an earlier statement by ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga in which he distanced his caucus from Holomisa’s comments, but insisted the MP should be suspended until he apologised for his “deeply prejudiced” views which “undermine the values of equality, dignity and freedom on which our democracy is based and for which so many fought so hard”.
Motshekga issued a statement on Sunday denouncing Holomisa’s comments, which he had noted “with great concern”.
The issue has come to the fore following a controversial submission to Holomisa’s constitutional review committee by the National House of Traditional Leaders which called for two changes to the constitution: one to do away with property rights protected in section 25 (the property clause); another to do away with protection against discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation”.
The constitutional review committee receives about a dozen submissions from organisations and individual members of the public each year.
Over the past 17 years, none of these has been implemented – or even moved beyond the committee, save for the occasional submission dealing with matters before another committee being referred to that committee.