JWG statement on comments made by COSAS President Wesley Kgang

Joint Working Group disgusted by homophobic statements made by COSAS President Wesley Kgang

June 01, 2009

The Joint Working Group (JWG), a network Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) organizations throughout South Africa are deeply disgusted by the comments made by Wesley Kgang the President of the Congress of South African Students in which he stated that Western Cape Premier Helen Zille was "not a woman but suspected of being a lesbian".

We were deeply disturbed by the decision of the Premier to appoint an all male cabinet in the Western Cape and believe that civil society should speak out on this as it is a direct attack on gender equality in the Western Cape. It does not however justify the use of brutal and violent hate speech. The comments made by Kgang represent exactly this kind of hate speech and are entirely irrelevant to the composition of the cabinet.

His assertion that lesbians are not women is deeply homophobic and heterosexist and we fail utterly to see the connection between the Premier's sexual orientation and her decision to appoint an all male cabinet. At a time when LGBTI people generally and lesbian women specifically are facing ever increasing levels of homophobic hate crime throughout the country and in the Western Cape, comments such as these only serve to fuel the crisis. Along with our disgust at the comments themselves we are deeply disappointed by the lack of censure from either the leadership of SASCO or the ANC, nor have we seen any statements from the CGE or SAHRC condemning this statement.

The Joint Working Group demand an immediate explanation and retraction of the comments made by Wesley Kgang and plan to take this matter further through the structures of the CGE and the SAHRC. – Issued by JWG

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