Originally published in Contact Online Weblog
Attempts to silence the free speech rights of a Christian provincial member of parliament in South Africa have been condemned by the Christian Peoples Alliance (CPA), a Christian democratic political party in Britain.
The Hon Jo Ann Downs faces prosecution by the South African Human Rights commission for hate speech after she used a television appearance to criticise the hosting of the Mr Gay World event on Easter Sunday this year in Gold Reef City, Johannesburg.
Jo Ann Downs is Chairman of the African Christian Democratic Party and sits in the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Parliament. Known for her campaigns against corruption, Mrs Downs commented:
“This is the first step to stop South Africans saying homosexuality is a sin. It is a problem for pastors and ministers who have to teach the whole word of God. This isn’t a battle I am choosing to fight, but a stand has to be taken for free speech and the liberty of the church in South Africa to address these issues.”
The Commission is now considering a complaint made against Ms Downs for her remarks on eTV, including her statement that “homosexuality is one of many sins”. If found to have breached the South African law and Constitution she faces a fine of R20 000 Rand (£2 000) and a criminal conviction.
The Federal Council of the CPA has sent a message of solidarity to Hon Jo Ann Downs and the African Christian Democratic Party (see text below). Dr Tom Rogers is on the CPA Council and commented:
“Freedom of expression and religion are at the cornerstone of any democracy. Any attempt to crush this suggests that the issue is less about minority group rights than agenda-ridden opportunism, seeking occasions to crush the rights of others. The events in South Africa follow our own nation’s rapidly increasing intolerance toward free speech, especially where it involves any sort of challenge to the official state ideology.
“Bigotry is a word that has been so repeatedly banded about by the PC brigade that it’s in danger of losing its true meaning – that is, an obstinate and narrow-minded adherence to one’s own stance without taking into account other standpoints.”
The CPA Executive adopted the following resolution:
“The choice of Easter Sunday for the Mr. Gay World event could indeed be construed as showing disrespect for Christians on their Holy day.
“It smacked of deliberate strategic militancy for their cause rather than a concern for being part of the efforts in South Africa to develop freedoms and rights within a democratic setting.
“Freedom of expression and religion are at the cornerstone of any democracy so any attempt to crush this suggests that the issue is less about minority group rights than agenda-ridden opportunism, seeking occasions to crush the rights of others.”