Daniel Friedman
4 minute read
28 Jun 2018
4:31 pm

ACDP in gay flag furore

Daniel Friedman

Nelson Mandela Bay is proudly flying the flag of LGBT rights in a bid to sell itself as 'the inclusive and caring city', but the ACDP's reaction shows this may not be the case.

A rainbow flag flies during a demonstration in Berlin on May 17, 2015. (Gregor Fischer/AFP via Getty Images)

The DA-led Nelson Mandela Bay municipality decided to celebrate Pride Month by flying “one of the world’s largest Pride flags” on Donkin Hill.

“This year, Nelson Mandela Bay officially adds its voice to governments committing, firstly, to recognising the LGBTQ community, and most importantly, to upholding the rights of the LGBTQ community,” says a statement issued by the City.

Furious members of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), however, say the decision to fly the flag, as well as the views in a statement put out on behalf of Nelson Mandela Bay, are the Democratic Alliance’s alone and not those of their coalition partners, which include the ACDP.

Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Lance Grootboom, says the statement released by the City “does not express the views of the ACDP”.

Grootboom confirmed the party was angry that the statement “went out on behalf of the municipality”.

“We were not consulted, and as far as I know neither were the other coalition partners,” he said.

“The DA is not alone in this coalition, and the statement they released doesn’t reflect that. It’s the views of the DA only.”

According to Grootboom, the statement’s embracing of LGBT rights is “not the stance of the City”, adding as a member of the ACDP, who made up part of the coalition governing the city, he did not support what he referred to in a perhaps unguarded moment as a “month of gay”. June is International Pride Month.

Grootboom did add the party did not mean its opposition to the flag and the statement “in a discriminatory way”, saying “we respect their rights”, presumably as long as those rights don’t extend to their “lifestyle” being in any way visible.

Grootboom also took the opportunity to express his distaste for Herman Mashaba’s suspension of DA councillor Mpho Phalatse for her comments on Israel, highlighting it as proof that the ACDP and the DA were not always on the same page politically.

READ MORE: Court rules religion can’t be a defence for anti-gay hate speech

Mashaba on Thursday confirmed he had reinstated Phalatse, while saying she “should be publicly reprimanded for her remarks in name of the City of Johannesburg”.

DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said being in a coalition did not mean agreement on all issues. “The views of the DA and the views of their coalition partner are not always the same.”

ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe agreed, saying: “We do not have to agree with our coalition partners on all issues. There will be some values shared, but not everything.”

Meshoe said while he did not know about the issue surrounding the flag, he could comment on the ACDP’s policy on homosexuality, which is unsurprisingly conservative.

“When a person says you have to accept homosexuality as a normal way of life, I disagree,” the reverend said.

“ACDP’s policy is that everyone has rights, but we do not want to be forced to believe what we don’t believe,” Meshoe said, adding his party believed Christian teachings considered the “lifestyle” to be “wrong”.

The reverend did concede that gay people had “a right to participate in South African life, to vote etc”, a comment that could only seem generous coming from the party.

The ACDP does not share the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s vision to become “the inclusive and caring city”.

A representative of pastor Jimmy Chrompton, a prominent Nelson Mandela Bay religious leader, echoed the reverend’s view, saying flying the flag was “against what we believe God’s words are”, and that homosexuality was “not what God teaches”.

“It doesn’t make us happy,” she continued.

But professor Dion Forster, a Methodist minister and academic, disagrees.

“For a Christian person to say that the sexual orientation of people in the LGBTQ community is sinful or against the will of god, I would say that they are definitely mistaken,” he said.

According to Forster, homophobic views are “not in line with the teachings of Christ”.

“Any views that seek to slander or discriminate against others are actually un-Christian in nature,” according to the minister.

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