THE rights of gays and lesbians emerged as the most controversial point at The Herald Community Dialogue, which tackled the Traditional Courts Bill last night.
The most recent edition of the popular Community Dialogue, aimed at stimulating vigorous debate on hot topics in Nelson Mandela Bay, posed the question: "The rights of chiefs versus the rights of the people: do we need the Traditional Courts Bill in 21st century South Africa?"
Held at the Nangoza Jebe Hall in New Brighton, the speakers included ANC MP Nkosi Phatekile Holomisa, who chairs the Constitutional Review Committee and is a member of the House of Traditional Leaders, community activist Funeka Soldaat, the founder and chairwoman of Free Gender, and Nomboniso Gasa, a researcher and analyst of gender, politics and cultural issues.
Most of those present, including Gasa and Soldaat, expressed deep scepticism and mistrust in the Traditional Courts Bill and in the role of traditional leaders.
Promoting the benefits of traditional courts Holomisa, while admitting he was not entirely clear on the issue, raised eyebrows and drew fire from fellow speakers after suggesting traditional leaders broadly believed homosexuality was abnormal and not right.
"Traditional healers are also psychologists and when they look into a case, they have found that these people [gays] have not done certain rituals or rites of passage which has made them like that [gay]," he said.