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Sunday, February 05, 2017

South Africa's Equality Court Process Questioned in 'Pigeons vs Anti-Gay Hate Speech Case'

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Written by Mamba

An LGBT hate speech case in the Equality Court in Johannesburg has become bogged down in details about the safety of pigeons, leading activists to question the efficacy of the system. Tim Trengove Jones, an English literature lecturer and cultural commentator, last year sued his neighbour, Elvira Oelofse, for allegedly making anti-LGBT slurs against him. Jones claims that in a verbal dispute in July over allowing a contractor to protect their Killarney apartment complex from roosting pigeons, Oelofse called him a “fucking old queen,” among a host of other alleged insults. Jones said that the slur “was based on my identity as a gay male… and aimed to mock me on the basis of my sexuality”. The case, which should be a relatively simple one, has now dragged on for months. Activists are concerned that the magistrate has allowed Oelofse’s legal representative to present arguments on her concerns about the pigeons and their safety, instead of focusing on what was said or not said by her. The Equality Court has been presented as any easy to use and low cost means for victims to enforce the Equality Act, but Jones’ experience indicates otherwise. In addition to the costs of legal representation and the days spent in court, the ongoing emotional stress saw him briefly hospitalized in November. Jones is asking for R50,000 (approx $3800 US) in compensation and an apology from Oelofse. The money, should it be awarded, would be donated to the gender equality NGO, Sonke Gender Justice. READ MORE

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