A columnist for South Africa’s fastest growing newspaper, Sunday Sun, has caused protests after the publication of his controversial article ‘”Call me names, but gay is NOT okay…”.

Jon Qwelane’s July 20th article highlights his anti-gay position, using the argument that homosexuality is ‘unnatural’.

The article also attacks ‘leftists’ and ‘liberals’ and those who support the ordaining of homosexuals and women as bishops in the Anglican Church.

“The real problem, as I see it, is the rapid degradation of values and traditions by the so-called liberal influences of nowadays; you regularly see men kissing other men in public, walking holding hands and shamelessly flaunting what are misleadingly termed their ‘lifestyle’ and ‘sexual preferences,'” he wrote.

“There could be a few things I could take issue with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, but his unflinching and unapologetic stance over homosexuals is definitely not among those,” said Qwelane.

As if anticipating the onslaught of complaints his article would cause he stated: “Please tell the Human Rights Commission that I totally refuse to withdraw or apologise for my views. I will write no letters to the commission either, explaining my thoughts.”

The article has caused widespread protests.

South African Human Rights Commission spokesperson Vincent Moaga said:

“I have never seen anything like this. I have been working here for just over a year now and the number of complaints we have received are, well, phenomenal.

“All our staff’s e-mails are on the website, so people are mailing their complaints to everyone.

“Our e-mail system is completely blocked. And I haven’t even checked the faxes or the post box yet.”

Organisers of a protest set for July 29th in Johannesburg at publishing giant Media24’s offices, who own Sunday Sun, are rallying people using the social networking site facebook.

“Let us present a united stance against the disgusting homophobia of Jon Qwelane as well as the shocking complicity of the Sunday Sun in choosing to publish and promote it.”

Another facebook group entitled ‘Appalling homophobia in our midst’ is also protesting against the publication of the article and currently has more than 2,700 members.

An online petition to get Jon Qwelane dismissed has also been launched.

Qwelane’s sentiments are not new. The recent article is a contunation of his adamant homophobia. In an article published in his column in 2006 entitled ‘Same-sex marriages ‘illogical” he responds to the possibility of his own children being gay.

“My answer is that my offspring are not gay and, so far, neither are any of my nephews and nieces. And a big YES, I would condemn and disown them if they turned out to be homosexuals.”