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In defence of Carina.

I refer to Carina Ray's "Confronting Homophobia" (NA Feb & April) and the responses that her column elicited. The introduction of a new constitution in South Africa in 1996 brought a new dispensation on how South Africans were to look at individual freedoms.

The Bill of Rights set out non-negotiables that were to be viewed as some-what sacrosanct; it guaranteed freedoms of speech, association, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Some in South Africa did not like the liberal approach that the constitution seemed to take to things. The religious lobby was among the unhappiest lot. But time has come to pass.

South Africa has a thriving gay/lesbian community that is asserting its presence. Here gay/lesbian people are well-known, and it is becoming a norm to have them in our communities.

One of the well-known NGOs, Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), which fights for the rights of HIV/Aids patients, was founded by a gay person, Zackie Achmat. Judge Edwin Cameron, who now sits in the Constitutional Court (the highest court in the land), is openly gay.

One of the best choreographers in the country, who is likely to lead proceedings during the opening or closing ceremonies of the Fifa World Cup, Somizi Mhlongo, is gay. I could count so many, some of them I know personally, because I studied with them.

The extent to which we in Africa go to dismiss or even condemn homosexuality is rather extreme. Presidents go all out and make scary pronouncements threatening gay/lesbian people. I am an African who is straight and have no problem whatsoever in living with gay/lesbian people.

In fact it is an offence in South Africa's workplace to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. You can be dismissed for doing so. This means you must keep your views or prejudices to yourself.

Mzukisi ka-Gwata

Centurion, South Africa

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Title Annotation:READERS' VIEWS
Author:Ka-Gwata, Mzukisi
Publication:New African
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jun 1, 2010
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