In 2008 a journalist working for South Africa’s Sunday Sun wrote an article which insulted gay people and women, encouraged conservatives to remove the rights of gay people from the SA Constitution, and also thumbed his nose at the Human Rights Commission by saying that he would refuse to apologize. More than two years later, it seems Jon Qwelane has been proved right.
Not only has it taken two years for this man to be charged for his offensive publications, but now that the Human Rights Commission has finally managed to get the process to the point where it can go to court, Mr Qwelane suddenly cannot be traced to be served with notice that he should appear in court – effectively holding up the whole process.
Where, I wonder, is Mr Qwelane? Perhaps the tracers diligently searching for him have been asking in the wrong places. Have they asked the Government?
Government should know – after all, they have just appointed this homophobe to the position of SA Ambassador to Uganda – that country now infamous for pushing a new law which will see Uganda’s GLBTI population murdered – sorry, “executed” for the horrible immoral “crime” of being born under one of those letters which Ugandans ignorantly bundle together under the global description – gay. But then, maybe they don’t – after all, if you consider the state of our government, you have to wonder if the left hand knows whose back it is scratching, or the right foor whose as- well, you get the idea.
Our government clearly is unaware that they have appointed Mr Qwelane, a man so full of racist remarks, scorn for women’s equality and anti-Semitic and anti-gay hatred, to a position where he will do a great deal of harm to the situation in Uganda as Ambassador for South Africa.
Our government is somehow completly unaware that Uganda has been pushing an anti-human rights agenda for the past decade, by passing laws which turn people into criminals simply for the crime of existing – and of course, the new law – dubbed the Ugandan Genocide Bill – is a complete surprise to them – or at least, will be if they ever admit to its existence. This ignorance is puzzling considering that South Africa has been assisting Uganda in an official capacity for years in terms of infrastructure development, business investment and hey – we even supply electricity to them. And of course, nobodies like us have been sending letters, emails, faxes, pertions, phone calls to our wonderful government to complain about their persistent silence on the matter.
They have yet to utter one single word on the issue, even to acknowledge receipt of any correspondence or dialog on the issue.
Of course, how can you have plausible deniability if you admit to knowing something you later want to claim you didn’t know about? I can see the President in a few years making an announcement on the state sanctioned genocide of GLBTI people in Uganda – which it clearly knew nothing about and was just as shocked and horrified as the rest of the world to learn about. Think it will fly? Or do I hear the sound of something crashing and burning?
Our government is placing policy and diplomacy with a murderous state above the value of human life. It is ignoring the will and voices of its own people. It is placing convenience above its own increasingly doubtful claims of “morality”. And it is placing silent complicity above speaking out and saving lives – even the lives of people it doesn’t approve of.
The answer is simple. If they cannot hear us, shout louder.