Stop protecting gays, traditional leaders tell ANC

2012-05-06 10:00
Mandy Rossouw
The ANC knows that the “great majority” of South Africans do not want to promote or protect the rights of gays and lesbians.

That’s according to the National House of Traditional Leaders, which has appealed to Parliament to debate removing a clause in the Constitution that protects people on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The ANC’s caucus will now debate whether or not the matter should be discussed in Parliament.

The National House of Traditional Leaders responded to an annual invitation by Parliament’s constitutional review committee to submit suggestions on which parts of the Constitution should be amended.

The traditional leaders argued that sexual orientation should be removed as a listed category from section 9 of the Constitution, which currently reads: “The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.”

ANC MP and chairperson of the constitutional review committee Patekile Holomisa said sexual orientation had always been a touchy subject for the ruling party’s caucus.

“The last time this issue was discussed was about same-sex marriages. Most of the people in the caucus were opposed to it, but then Luthuli House and the leadership instructed us to vote for it.”

Holomisa, who is also the head of the Congress of Traditional Leaders, said the ANC was aware that the “great majority does not want to give promotion and protection to these things”, but that the party’s own policy dictated full rights for everyone.

Holomisa insisted that gay people should not be “molested and raped”, and said homosexuality was a “condition that occurred when certain cultural rituals have not been performed”.

“Once you take them (gay people) to a spiritual healer they tell you it’s because some ritual hasn’t been performed.

“But when the 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.”

He warned that the ANC might eventually lose votes if it did not serve majority interests.

“Now and again people are given a right to vote. They may decide to vote for a party that does what they want. We are currently voting for the ANC because of its transformation agenda, but they may one day look at other issues,” he said.

Holomisa also revealed that MPs had reservations about the Protection of State Information Bill, but when Luthuli House spoke they voted in favour of it.

“Luthuli House gave instructions, even people who had misgivings about the bill were required to vote in a particular way,” he said.

This flies in the face of attempts by the ANC to insist the caucus is fully united behind the bill.