Civil rights organisations have lashed out at recent comments by the wife of KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo for calling homosexuality “evil”.
Nono Dhlomo was addressing the launch of youth friendly services at Durban’s Cato Manor Clinic where she urged government to bring back religious studies in schools, calling homosexuality “just evil spirits”.
“All these problems that are facing our children is the devil’s work, our kids need prayers to be protected from all the negative energies facing them,” said Dhlomo, who is employed by the US-funded organisation, Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health (MatCH), and seconded to the Department of Health to support school health services.
Several organisations have called on her to retract her comments immediately, calling it “irresponsible and shocking”.
“Her comments as the wife of a health MEC [are] disappointing and will lead to more violence against an already vulnerable community.
“We welcome the leadership of the MEC in leading the strategy on the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, so we are dismayed at the remarks from his wife,” said Nonhlanhla Mkhize, spokesperson for Durban’s Lesbian and Gay Community health Centre.
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has also weighed in, saying her remarks would worsen the stigma of LGBT people.
“Her comments are demoralising and come at a time when for the first time in the world, SA leads with a new strategic plan for addressing the LGBT health needs. The Department of Health should be seen as a gate opener, not a gate keeper, and so we find her comments very disappointing and call on her to retract them immediately,” said TAC provincial secretary Sandile Gumede.
In its response, KZN health spokesperson Desmond Motha said the department recognises the LGBT community as a key population group requiring specific health services, and did not discriminate against them.
It also made it clear that the MEC’s wife was not representing the department at the event.
MatCH spokesperson Arthi Ramkissoon said the remarks by Dhlomo were in contravention of the organisation’s policies and are under investigation.
“MatCH’s work strongly supports mitigation and reduction of discrimination and stigma as well as expansion of access to health services for all communities, including lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender people.
“Mrs Dhlomo was not representing MatCH at the launch of the adolescent and youth friendly services. Her alleged comments about homosexuality and code of conduct do not reflect the views of MatCH. MatCH’s human resources department is investigating the incident and will take any necessary action,” Ramkissoon told News24.
Dhlomo could not be reached for comment.