I am sick of bigots, in all forms. I am sick of racism and homophobia, and people using religion to justify their bigotry.
Zizipho Pae, the deputy president of the University of Cape Town’s SRC posted the following status on Facebook on the 28th of June 2015 in response to the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the United States:
“We are institutionalising and normalising sin!
May God have mercy in us….”
The two major problems I have with this are the blatant homophobia and the hypocrisy of it all.
To start off with, let’s have a look at the South African constitution – not because I enjoy appealing to authority, but because I think the democratic process behind its formation legitimise it as a good guideline of how we should behave as South African citizens.
Under Section 9, it states that “No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone in one or more grounds in terms if [race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth]”.
Now when we look at Zizipho’s status, by saying that homosexuality is a sin, she means that it is “an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.” This is evidently condemning gay people, and being hateful towards them.
An interesting conclusion from looking at our constitution is that discrimination based on all of these criteria is equally condemnable. Thus, being homophobic is just as perverse as being racist. Discriminating against any if these groups of society is considered hate speech. And this is where the freedom of speech gets limited.
This brings me to my point about hypocrisy. Zizipho was one of the leading supporters of the ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ movement, which aimed at stopping discrimination based on race/colour. She fights for women’s rights. She condemned racists for marginalising and insulting a group of society. However, she is now doing the exact same thing, only to another group of society. In my view, that makes her no better than the oppressors she is trying to oppose.
But wait, wait, wait – I’m sure there are some people that are now thinking that she is still not in the wrong for being homophobic because the Bible condemns homosexuality, and the Bible has more authority than our constitution.
While I am no expert on Christianity, I have done some research and it is now very clear that supporting the freedom of individuals (including LGBTQI+ individuals) is not mutually exclusive with being a good Christian.
To those who argue about those common Bible verses that are ‘against homosexuality’, here is a rather insightful rebuttal:
The most powerful excerpt from that essay is “In the same passages where gay sex is condemned and punished, so is eating shrimp, crop co-mingling, eating rabbit, wearing linen and wool at the same time, and eating raw meat. So if you’re gonna be a Biblical literalist, you might as well start sewing your own clothes and becoming a vegetarian.”
It is so true that the Bible has a more powerful, over-arching theme of tolerance, ‘loving thy neighbour’ and not judging others. I feel that if you are a follower of Christianity, this is far more important than the misinterpretation of a few verses which are arbitrarily taken out of context.
So, let me just say, bigotry is bigotry. In our progressive society, it is no longer valid to hide behind your ‘beliefs’. Confront what they actually mean, give them some thought.
It’s time for all of us to realise that homophobic comments should be condemned just as much as racist comments, and the next step after our achieved legislative equality is for us to start calling out people who are discriminatory, and refusing to normalise that in our society.