The South African LGBT community is in an uproar about Riekert Botha, a radio evangelical from South Africa who has been spewing anti-gay comments at the expense of the South African taxpayer. South Africa, which has a fully inclusive constitution outlaws discrimination against LGBTI people and have anti-hate speech laws to protect groups against hate speech.
Botha broadcasts a program on Derrich Gardner’s program, RSG (Afr) which airs on Saturdays between 9.30 am and 10 am, streaming on http://www.rsg.co.za/luister-nou.asp. The program is in the Afrikaans language which caters to mostly white South Africans.
Botha uses his platform on RSG (national state radio) to attract followers to his Facbook page where he has more than 7000 likes and then on the Facebook pages spews, amongst other things, homophobic commentary, such as this statement on his Facebook page, as translated from the original Afrikaans:
“Beware of trying to be ‘en vogue.’ If you suffer from an inferiority complex being ‘en vogue’ won’t heal you. It is ‘fashionable’ to cohabitate and be promiscuous. It is ‘trendy’ to be gay and to consider the Bible old-fashioned. It is ‘fashionable’ to have no scruples and declare yourself god. It is ‘en vogue’ to be religious without *knowing* Jesus. It is ‘fashionable’ to proselytize peace without acknowledging the Prince of Peace. In God’s eyes being fashionable in this sense is very very unfashionable. You have to choose: ‘favorable’ in God’s eyes and ‘un-trendy’ in the eyes of people, or conversely. If you make a poor choice your misery will only worsen.”
(Afrikaans: “Pasop om “in” te probeer wees. As jy aan minderwaardigheid lei gaan om “in” te wees jou nie genees nie. Dis “in” om saam te bly en rond te slaap. Dis “in” om gay te wees en die Bybel as oudtyds te beskou. Dis “in” om geen grense te hê nie en jouself as god te verklaar. Dis “in” om godsdienstig te wee sonder om Jesus te ken. Dis “in” om vredeliewendheid te predik sonder om die Prins van Vrede te erken. By God is “in” baie, baie “uit”. Jy moet kies: “in” by God en “uit” by die mense of andersom. Kies jy verkeerd sal jou mismoedigheid net vergroot.”)
Here is the page: (first post) :http://www.facebook.com/PleisersVirSielBlad (Dis die eerste pos). And then under the post is a “come on” link to hit the radio site, stating “RSG – This is the one! Listen Now! “RSG – Dis die een! || Luister Nou “ www.rsg.co.za
The South African Broadcasting Corporation is a public service and commercial broadcasting organization. The SABC’s core business is to deliver a variety of high quality programs and services through television, radio and new media platforms that informs, educates, entertains and supports the public interest.
When South African activists complained to RSG station manager Magdaleen Kruger, she said that although she received a number of complaints via e-mail, it was no more than the amount the station normally receives.
GLAAD South Africa and activists are calling for action and have sent complaints to the Station head. Coenie Kukkuk of Mr. Gay South Africa provided me with a copy of a which has been sent to the Station head and reads as follows:-
“It was with immense dismay that I saw Riekert Botha’s latest nonsensical tirade on his Facebook fan page. Botha makes the platform granted by RSG quite prominent on his Facebook fan page, subsequently his thoughtless comments could have an impact on the brand and image of RSG and the SABC by extension.
I have to object to RSG giving a platform to this misinformed individual. He might have noble intentions most of the time and bring about positive influence through his programme (pleisters vir die siel) but his latest statement makes his continued appearance on a platform funded by the state and the public increasingly untenable.
The state, and the public have a constitutional obligation to respect the rights of everyone and it is thus regrettable that a publicly funded radio station supplies a platform to a person who makes improper and insensitive comments based on his misguided personal beliefs.
It has never been en vogue to be gay, au contraire. The vast majority of LGBTI/Gay people suffer years of anguish, battering, social rejection and pariah status. What also baffles is that Botha groups “gay” with a motley assortment of societal leprosy. There is absolutely no connection between the mention of the vulnerable gay grouping and the rest of the tirade.
Botha might have made a serious error in judgment but we won’t know until he clarifies his view. In the meantime the continued platform supplied by RSG might be construed as tacit agreement.
The Constitution protects vulnerable groups and forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. It also provides for freedom of religion. I do not dispute that Botha should have a right to his beliefs, I just don’t think he ought to use it in this context (which isn’t based on biblical text).
We believe we can live in harmony, united in our diversity and that there’s no need for disparaging demagoguery.
We urge of you to clarify your position on this matter.
If no response is received, we will have no option but to send the matter for review to the Press Ombudsman and the South African Human Rights Commission.”
While Botha may assert religious freedom perhaps he should be spewing his evangelical interpretations inside the closed enclave of his Church, but not at the South African taxpayers expense nor on the pages of the very public Facebook, in flagrant disregard of the SA constitution and what it represents.
Here are e-mail addresses to send your complaints:- firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Here is Botha’s “apology” per his Facebook:
After the last few days it has come to my attention that people of the conversations about homosexuality hurt. I’d like to respond:
1) It was by no means my intention or plan to get people hurt, and if you experienced me as I humbly ask for forgiveness. I am in the ministry of grace and share with many people their tears and worries – sometimes to the detriment of my own family. There are a lot of pain caused by sin, and I dare not hurt to add it.
2) If you understand my reaction, I reject gays, I strongly deny it. If God does not reject gays, how can I?
3) I believe unequivocally in the integrity and inspiration of Scripture as God’s Word that the Person, Character, Truth and Way of Jesus Christ to our opening. It includes Paul’s letters.
4) I believe that Jesus died and rose again to redeem us from all and any sins.
5) I believe that homosexuality is sin – as the scripture says.
6) I do not want to call sin something mean to someone to judge – especially if the Bible is very clear about it. (Translated from Afrikaans)
by Melanie Nathan