By Melanie Nathan, June 12, 2013.
UPDATED 6/13/20123. P.E. Herald took swift action in Apologizing to the South African Gay Community for an Ad that was placed on page 3 of their print publication:
“The Herald Port Elizabeth – The Herald distances itself from the contents of this advert which goes against the basic tenets of our constitution which protects the rights of same-sex relationships. All adverts are meant to be passed by the editor but an advertising sales rep sent through this particular ad without first sending it to me to vet it. I as editor only saw the ad when it appeared in the paper. On behalf of The Herald I apologise to all who might have been offended by this ad. Bev Gaia our regional sales manager has committed herself to checking all advertisements in future and having them vetted by the editor. – Heather Robertson, Herald/Weekend Post Editor.”
The Original article: A popular South African daily newspaper, the Port Elizabeth Herald is under fire for publishing an advertisement that local LGBT rights activists describe as “hate speech and intimidation” against the gay community.
The ad, which appeared on Page 3 of the newspaper’s print version (Photo Below) was submitted by The Islam Awareness Center and is seen to be intended to intimidate the local gay (LGBTI) community and in violation of Act no 4 of 2000, exacerbated by the phrase “Be Warned”
Hate speech and such intimidation is against the law in South Africa, and religious organizations are not exempt.
The organization SA GLAAD told me today that they will be issuing a statement tomorrow as well as reporting the serious and threatening infraction by the P.E. Herald and the Advertiser to the South African Human Rights Commission. The Press Ombudsman will also be informed and the necessary formal complaints will be made.
The Ad also appears on the Islam Awareness Centre’s Face Book page as can be seen from the screenshot above.
South Africa, although plagued by extreme homophobic violence, has an all inclusive constitution and legislation that protects the equal rights of LGBTI people. All parties responsible for the ad should be aware that violence could be incited by virtue of its wording and placement.
Christina Engela Christina Engela, Media & Press Liaison, from the SA Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation:
“The paper should have read the advertisement when it accepted the order from the Islamic Center and realized at that time that it was in contravention of the Equality Act as well as the Press Code.
This advert is an assault on the freedom of citizens of this country to enjoy their constitutional right to protection from discrimination and intimidation on the grounds of religious prejudice. It is an affront to the dignity of gay people and comes across as intimidating and intolerant. While such opinions are legal within the context of religious meetings and within religious publications, the placement of this item in a public newspaper is an insult to the dignity of people based on their inborn sexual orientation.
We (SA GLAAD) urge the organization which placed the advertisement to show tolerance for diversity and to refrain from such concerning acts of intimidation. We also urge the Herald and other news media in South Africa to show some more sensitivity and professionalism in verifying that advertisements placed with them check out before causing offense to their readership and to the general public.”
South African Law:
ADDENDUM B: The Promotion of Equality Act (Act No 4 of 2000)
Protections of the Act against unfair discrimination on the grounds of religion are found in Chapter 1, paragraph 1:
“(xxii) “prohibited grounds” are–
(a) race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth; or
(b) any other ground where discrimination based on that other ground–
(i) causes or perpetuates systemic disadvantage;
(ii) undermines human dignity; or
(iii) adversely affects the equal enjoyment of a person’s rights and freedoms in a serious manner that is comparable to discrimination on a ground in paragraph (a);”
and under Chapter 1, paragraph 2:
“2. The objects of this Act are–
(a) to enact legislation required by section 9 of the Constitution;
(b) to give effect to the letter and spirit of the Constitution, in particular–
(i) the equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms by every person;
(ii) the promotion of equality;
(iii) the values of non-racialism and non-sexism contained in section 1 of the Constitution;
(iv) the prevention of unfair discrimination and protection of human dignity as contemplated in sections 9 and 10 of the Constitution;
(v) the prohibition of advocacy of hatred, based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, that constitutes incitement to cause harm as contemplated in section 16(2)(c) of the Constitution and section 12 of this Act;” of this Act.
Under Chapter 2, paragraphs 10 to 12, the Act addresses discrimination and incitement of hatred to cause violence or discrimination against anyone protected under the other sections of the Act.
“Prohibition of hate speech
10. (1) Subject to the proviso in section 12, no person may publish, propagate, advocate or communicate words based on one or more of the prohibited grounds, against any person, that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to–
(a) be hurtful;
(b) be harmful or to incite harm;
(c) promote or propagate hatred.
(2)Without prejudice to any remedies of a civil nature under this Act, the court may, in accordance with section 21(2)(n) and where appropriate, refer any case dealing with the publication, advocacy, propagation or communication of hate speech as contemplated in subsection (1), to the Director of Public Prosecutions having jurisdiction for the institution of criminal proceedings in terms of the common law or relevant legislation.
Prohibition of harassment
11. No person may subject any person to harassment.
Prohibition of dissemination and publication of information that unfairly discriminates
12. No person may–
(a) disseminate or broadcast any information;
(b) publish or display any advertisement or notice, that could reasonably be construed or reasonably be understood to demonstrate a clear intention to unfairly discriminate against any person: Provided that bona fide engagement in artistic creativity, academic and scientific inquiry, fair and accurate reporting in the public interest or publication of any information, advertisement or notice in accordance with section 16 of the Constitution, is not precluded by this section.”
The Press Code can be found at http://www.presscouncil.org.za/ContentPage?code=PRESSCODE
The press exists to serve society. Its freedom provides for independent scrutiny of the forces that shape society, and is essential to realising the promise of democracy. It enables citizens to make informed judgments on the issues of the day, a role whose centrality is recognised in the South African Constitution.
Section 16 of the Bill of Rights sets out that:
1. “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes:
a) Freedom of the press and other media;
b) Freedom to receive and impart information or ideas;
c) Freedom of artistic creativity; and
d) Academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.
2. “The right in subsection (1) does not extend to
a) Propaganda for war;
b) Incitement of imminent violence; or
c) Advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion,and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.”
The press strives to hold these rights in trust for the country’s citizens; and it is subject to the same rights and duties as the individual. Everyone has the duty to defend and further these rights, in recognition of the struggles that created them: the media, the public and government, who all make up the democratic state.
Our work is guided at all times by the public interest, understood to describe information of legitimate interest or importance to citizens.
As journalists, we commit ourselves to the highest standards of excellence, to maintain credibility and keep the trust of our readers. This means always striving for truth, avoiding unnecessary harm, reflecting a multiplicity of voices in our coverage of events, showing a special concern for children and other vulnerable groups, and acting independently.”
…………………… AND also
5. Discrimination and Hate Speech
5.1. Except where it is strictly relevant to the matter reported and it is in the public interest to do so, the press shall avoid discriminatory or denigratory references to people’s race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth or other status, nor shall it refer to people’s status in a prejudicial or pejorative context.
5.2. The press has the right and indeed the duty to report and comment on all matters of legitimate public interest. This right and duty must, however, be balanced against the obligation not to publish material that amounts to:
5.2.1. Propaganda for war;
5.2.2. Incitement of imminent violence; or
5.2.3. Advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.
A publication is justified in strongly advocating its own views on controversial topics provided that it treats its readers fairly by:
6.1. Making fact and opinion clearly distinguishable;
6.2. Not misrepresenting or suppressing relevant facts; and
6.3. Not distorting the facts.
7.1. The press shall be entitled to comment upon or criticise any actions or events of public interest provided such comments or criticisms are fairly and honestly made.
7.2. Comment by the press shall be presented in such manner that it appears clearly that it is comment, and shall be made on facts truly stated or fairly indicated and referred to.
7.3. Comment by the press shall be an honest expression of opinion, without malice or dishonest motives, and shall take fair account of all available facts which are material to the matter commented upon.
By Melanie Nathan
Side Note: I was raised in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, now also known as Mandela Bay, a beautiful coastal seaside town, located in the Cape. It is one of the largest cities in South Africa, situated in the Eastern Cape Province, 770 km (478 mi) east of Cape Town. The city, often shortened to PE and nicknamed “The Friendly City” or “The Windy City”, stretches for 16 km along Algoa Bay, and is one of the major seaports in South Africa. Port Elizabeth was founded as a town in 1820 to house British settlers as a way of strengthening the border region between the Cape Colony and the Xhosa. It now forms part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality which has a population of over 1.3 million.
The Centre’s website can be found at http://islamawareness.co.za/
The Centre’s telephone number from U.S.A. 01127 861147526
Their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/iacpe?filter=1