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SAHRC lodges opposing papers with the Johannesburg Equality Court against Mr Qwelane

Date: Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The SA Human Rights Commission confirms that it has lodged opposing papers with the Johannesburg Equality Court.

This is in response to Mr Jon Qwelane’s legal representatives’ decision to ask the court to rescind its default judgment in a complaint that was lodged against him. Mr Qwelane wants the court to hear the complaint against him afresh and provide him with an opportunity to defend himself.

The complaint relates to the homophobic article he had written in his previous capacity as a columnist for the Sunday Sun.

Due to the fact that Mr Qwelane did not present himself to court when the matter was heard and did not furnish the court with any statement to explain his absence, the Commission proceeded to ask the court to grant default judgment against him.

In his court papers Mr Qwelane claims that he could not attend the court proceedings as he was away on official duty as Ambassador to Uganda.

 After hearing this matter, the court found that the article and the cartoon which accompanied it amounted to hate speech. The court also found that the cartoon propagates hatred and harm against homosexuals and that, homosexuals as represented by the cartoon suffered emotional pain.

As a result, the court ordered Mr Qwelane to unconditionally apologise to the gay and lesbian community and to pay a symbolic amount of R100 000 which will be used to promote and raise awareness regarding the rights of gay and lesbian persons.

The application for rescission of the default judgment against him filed by Mr Qwelane will be heard on 21 July 2011.

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