The Love Not Hate campaign sees the recent judgment in the Jon Qwelane case as an important victory against hate speech.

On Friday, the South Gauteng High Court found Qwelane guilty of hate speech in terms of Section 10 of the Equality Act for his 2008 article, Call me names, but gay is NOT okay, published in the Sunday Sun.

In addition, Justice Moshidi rejected Qwelane’s defence that the provisions of the Equality Act concerning hate speech are unconstitutional.

Qwelane was ordered by the court to tender an unconditional apology to the LGBTI community, which must be published in a national Sunday newspaper with the same or equal circulation as the Sunday Sun. He was also ordered to pay the costs of the other parties in the proceedings.

Evidence in the case, and the judgment, are to be forwarded to the South African Police Service for further investigation.

“This is an important decision by the courts,” said Lerato Phalakatshela, Hate Crime Manager at OUT, and spokesperson for the campaign. “It reaffirms the terrible impact of hate speech against the LGBTI community, and acknowledges that these words and sentiments lead to an environment conducive to discrimination and violence.”

Phalakatshela noted that last year’s Love Not Hate report on Hate Crimes against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) People in South Africa found that verbal abuse was the most common form of discrimination faced by this community.

Of those surveyed, 39 percent reported being subjected to verbal insults, while 20 percent were threatened with physical violence.

“Although freedoms of speech and expressions are important cornerstones of our democracy, vilifying and debasing LGBTI people, an already vulnerable group, as less than fully human is a step too far,” said Phalakatshela. “We hope Qwelane accepts this judgement and does the honourable thing by unconditionally apologising for his dangerous and dehumanising words.”

The Love Not Hate campaign is a nation-wide multi-partner initiative addressing violence against LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex) people.