Last edited: February 13, 2005

South African Group Seeks Apology

PlanetOut, May 4, 1998

SUMMARY: The National Party leader cried "Boerseun" to defend himself against gay sex charges, but NCGLE has informed him that not all farmer's sons are heterosexual.

While the top South African political parties tussle over who's at fault for a male prisoner's claim of having been paid for sex by National Party leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality (NCGLE) is demanding an apology from van Schalkwyk for the way he phrased his denial. Apparently no one is actually giving any credence to the charges themselves, although police are reportedly investigating.

Van Schalkwyk, successor to F.W. de Klerk, issued his denial at a press conference April 30, after the allegations were published in the Globe and Mail, saying, "I have never in my life had homosexual relations. I am a Boerseun [farmer's son]."

NCGLE's Jonathan Berger responded May 1 by demanding a retraction. He pointed out that, contrary to van Schalkwyk's implication, some Afrikaners are also gay. He listed a handful of better-known Afrikaner gays and lesbians, saying their contributions "add to the richness and diversity of Afrikaans culture." Berger went on to lambaste the National Party for having established the national sodomy law in 1976, which is still on the books even though it conflicts with the nation's new constitutional protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation. "When in power, Mr. van Schalkwyk's party created a climate of fear which resulted in the persecution of lesbians and gay men, both at the hands of the state and the public. Under the apartheid government, between 300 and 400 men were sent to prison each year on convictions of sodomy," Berger said.

Meanwhile, the African National Congress has admitted that the prisoner, John Hermanus, made repeated calls to Steve Carolus, who works in the constituency office of ANC MP Willie Hofmeyr, but says that Carolus always told him the matter had nothing to do with the ANC and Hermanus should file a police complaint instead. Carolus ultimately visited Hermanus in prison to make the same points and did not hear from him after that. In a press release, the ANC declared itself "astounded that the National Party should seek to abuse the integrity and sound judgment exercised by Carolus and Hofmeyr by accusing them of having a hand in spreading such allegations."

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