Jon Qwelane wants Equality Act declared unconstitutional

Former newspaper columnist and ambassador to Uganda Jon Qwelane, started his application in the Johannesburg High court on Monday.

He is trying to have the Equality Act declared unconstitutional, thereby challenging a 2011 ruling that he was guilty of hate speech after he wrote a column under the headline ' “Call me names, but gay is not okay”.

Andrew Boerner, one of the lawyers representing Qwelane, joins Stephen Grootes on the line to talk about the application.

Boerner says that The Equality Act Section 10.1 has gone further than the Constitution on issues of free speech and it is on this basis that they are arguing the Equality Act is 'unconstitutional'.

The clause adds the words 'hurtful' and 'offence' which differ from that of the Constitution.

The Equality Act goes further than what I think they envisioned in the Constitution.

Andrew Boerner, laywer for Jon Qwelane

Boerner says the case involves five parties. The Human Rights Commission is the applicant and Qwelane the respondent in the Equality Court matter. Then in the Constitutional matter, the Minister of Justice is added to the respondents. There are also two amici, friends of the court.

The proceedings have just begun.

It is unclear what the implications of a victory in this case could mean for many other rulings by the Equality Courts.

Listen to the full interview below:


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