[OPINION] How the decision to deny Pastor Steven Anderson entry into SA supports the LGBTI movement
South Africa was the fifth country in the world to legalise gay marriage. This, in 2006. While many countries in Africa both condemn and sentence people to death for being gay, South Africa stood among giants like The Netherlands, Canada, Belgium and Spain through this decision. When Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba announced that US Pastor Steven Anderson would be denied entry into the country on the basis of hate speech for his homophobic remarks, South Africa again stood out as a country unafraid to stand by and support the equal rights and freedoms of the LGBTI community.
Very few people understand the impact discrimination has on the world we live in. Race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation are often used as tools for hate speech, intolerance, violence and the segregation of communities. All because one particular group of people don’t fit into or conform to another groups model of the world. Think about the hate we spread when we teach our children to condemn someone’s culture, religion, race, gender or sexual orientation. Think about how wayward our moral compass as a species is when we applaud war as an act of grace but the act of two same-sex people loving one another as a sin. Think about why it has become acceptable to hurt one another but a crime, in some places, for same-sex people to love one another. Think about why the fear that is intolerance spreads through the world like cancer, but the love stories of same-sex people die in jail cells or are sentenced to death.
We co-exist in a world where there is a very fine line between freedom of expression and hate speech. I personally differentiate the two by asking myself if the freedom to express myself undeniably condemns something I don’t agree with or don’t fully understand to the degree that I come across as being totally ignorant and hateful. If what I call freedom of expression makes me sound like a fanatic, someone too afraid to question my beliefs, ignorant as they may be, then I say that amounts to hate speech. The world is what it is because people are who they are and that includes people who live through judgement and intolerance and then justify it in the name of God, a diplomatic policy, politics, or just a blatant need to hate someone because of ignorance and fear.
One of our biggest problems as people is needing everyone to think, feel, believe and live the way we do. As if there is a right way! As if some special guide was given to some over others! As if those who fit are here to vilify the misfits! As if anyone knows exactly the way things should be! We’re all human. Cut me and I bleed blood. Hurt me and I cry. Our differences only lie in what we believe they are. Our condemnation comes only when we believe we that we are right and others are wrong because they are different from us. It is my own fear that leads me to believe that there is a God that only loves me and not you because you don’t look like me, think like me, act like me, talk like me and live like me. It is my fear that hates you.
So to those like Pastor Anderson, Penny Sparrow and the others, we tolerate your homophobia, your racism, your misogyny, your fanaticism, your wars, your persecution, your ignorance, your close-mindedness and your hatred. How about you show us the same courtesy?
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Kaya FM.