So many Questions: Congress of Traditional Leaders president Patekile Holomisa
Comments by Congress of Traditional Leaders president Patekile Holomisa on Contralesa's request to abolish the constitutional protection of gay and lesbian rights sparked outrage. Chris Barron asked him ...
Do you think you've put your foot in it here?
No, I haven't.
You've just said stuff you'd rather you didn't say?
Then why don't you want to talk about it? It's an uncomfortable discussion.
Because where I come from these things are not supported, not condoned.
What do you mean, not condoned?
It is something that is not encouraged. It is not part of our culture.
What culture is that?
The African culture.
So how come the African National Congress disagrees with you?
You can't say that. Who do you mean when you say the ANC disagrees with me?
The chief whip?
The chief whip has not spoken to me, so I do not know what he disagrees with.
He says your statements are not ANC policy.
Well, of course the ANC was the main sponsor of the clause prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. That's the official position of the ANC.
And you're an ANC MP but you don't agree?
I assume you want me to give the context to why the National House of Traditional Leaders made the submission that has caused this outrage?
Yes, why did they?
Because they say their communities are calling on them to do something to stop what is happening, because they're custodians of their culture.
We live in a constitutional democracy, don't we? Everybody supports constitutional democracy, but the same constitution talks about people having to enjoy their cultures.
Should this trump all other rights?
No, none of the rights in the constitution or bill of rights is absolute.
How can you say being gay or lesbian is not part of the African culture when so many Africans are gays and lesbians?
They're not doing it in terms of their culture, they're doing it despite their culture.
Who decides what is the culture and what is not?
The traditional communities and traditional leaders.
According to that culture should it be a criminal offence?
No, it has never been a criminal offence.
It is in other African countries?
In terms of the law, not in terms of the culture.
But in terms of the culture they should not be protected?
No, no. They are protected, they can't be assaulted, or raped or killed. According to the culture.
But they are being assaulted, raped and killed.
It's not because of the culture that they're being assaulted and raped and killed. The culture doesn't say they must be assaulted and killed and raped.
Have you as a cultural leader condemned this?
Of course. Whenever we hear of these things we condemn it, because it is not supposed to be like that. Nobody is supposed to be assaulted.
Doesn't it encourage this sort of thing when traditional leaders call for the protection of gay rights to be removed?
No. I've made it clear that people should not be assaulted.
But you also make it clear that being gay is not part of the culture?
It doesn't necessarily mean that whoever deviates from our culture must be assaulted or killed.
But when you make it clear that certain forms of behaviour are not part of your culture ...?
The communities know that this is not condoned by our culture.
But it's okay for them to be discriminated against?
No. Our position is that practitioners of homosexuality should not be denied the right to work and do other things. But it takes issue with them being allowed to marry each other.
If the protection of gay rights is removed and they're discriminated against, will that be okay with you?
This submission is going to be debated. It's not as if just because traditional leaders have given the word then that is going to be law.
Thank goodness for that.
I was saying it light-heartedly. It has never been the case that the word of a traditional leader is law.