Cape Town, 14 November 2022 – Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) was recently invited to take part in an episode of kykNET talk show Sê Jou Sê, hosted by Aden Thomas. This particular episode was entitled “is it okay to be gay?” and in addition to IAM’s representative Reverend Michelle Boonzaier; Oscar Bougardt was also invited as a guest on the show.
While it is widely understood that the format of the talk show follows controversy with the intention to provoke debate amongst the live audience and panel, it’s important to preface this statement with the assertion that IAM’s praxis is never confrontational. We are, however, very clear on our values as a human rights organisation advocating for the affirmation and full inclusion of LGBTIQ+ persons who are already marginalised, victimised and invisibilised by institutional religion and faith spaces.
Religious instigated homophobia has a ripple effect on how the LGBTIQ+ community is perceived, treated and othered. Hate crimes, gender-based violence (i.e., “corrective rape”), and the maiming and killing of Queer people is encouraged when religion is used as a tool to exclude and condemn people. We are aware of how faith is used to violate LGBTIQ+ people globally, but especially on the African continent. We are also aware that these movements and “ministries” are funded and influenced by the evangelical right which is largely based in the United States of America. These perceptions, ignorance and fundamentalist attitudes presented by the likes of Oscar Bougardt infringe on the human dignity of Queer people in this country and on this continent.
Our work is evidenced-based – and we have recorded countless personal narratives of Queer Christians who continue to be ostracised and rejected by their churches, and whose bodies carry the trauma and pain of internalised homophobia perpetuated by patriarchal and toxic masculine systemic practices.
Spewing homophobic bile cannot be tolerated under the guise of “freedom of speech and expression” as many bigots would like to believe. South Africa’s Constitution does not just promote rights, but also lays out responsibilities, including leading by example. Religious, spiritual, and traditional leaders and organisations in particular have the responsibility to uphold the dignity of all communities, and to stop using so-called religious, cultural or traditional values as excuses to exclude or discriminate against members of the LGBTIQ+ community.
The media also has – as a purveyor of news and information – an important role to play in weeding out the rot that is homophobia and Queer antagonism in spaces of public discourse. This means being responsible enough not to amplify voices that incite the further marginalisation of already oppressed groups. This also certainly means steering clear of using people’s lives, stories and vulnerabilities as fodder for television ratings; but rather as conduits for shifting narratives and creating lasting impact in our communities.
For media related queries, contact:
Gomo Lesejane (IAM Communications Officer)
+27 79 317 5532