Net­care praised for stance on ho­mo­pho­bia

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - SIYAVUYA MZANTSI AND ANA

LGBTI groups have wel­comed the sus­pen­sion of a para­medic for his ho­mo­pho­bic re­marks in­sin­u­at­ing that the dev­as­tat­ing Knysna fires were a re­sult of God’s wrath.

The Net­care 9111 para­medic had posted a Face­book re­mark say­ing the fires, which have left thou­sands des­ti­tute, were the work of God be­cause gay cou­ples got mar­ried at the Pink Lo­erie Mardi Gras and Arts Fes­ti­val, hosted in the town.

In his post, the Face­book user, by the name of Bossie Boshoff, had also slated the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der and in­ter­sex com­mu­nity, say­ing: “It was just after the elec­tions of the Dutch Re­formed Church where they ap­proved ho­mo­sex­ual mar­riage… God was taunted with it. They should not cry about the fires now. God won’t al­low him­self to be made a fool of.”

By yes­ter­day, the rag­ing fires in the Eden District area had claimed seven lives, the lat­est be­ing that of a mother of a tod­dler who died at Welbe­dacht on Wed­nes­day. “This num­ber in­cludes one fire­fighter,” ac­cord­ing to the West­ern Cape Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment Cen­tre.

The re­gion has been de­clared a dis­as­ter area fol­low­ing the dev­as­tat­ing fires that tore through the town since Wed­nes­day.

Or­gan­is­ers of the Pink Lo­erie Mardi Gras & Arts Fes­ti­val hosted in Knysna ear­lier this year said they were sad­dened by the para­medic’s ut­ter­ances.

“It is sad that peo­ple in this day and age still be­lieve in ha­tred and big­otry to such an ex­tent that they laugh with ex­cite­ment when a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter like this oc­curs and a whole town is im­pacted and brought to the brink of to­tal de­struc­tion,” said Pink Lo­erie chair­per­son Jo­hann van Niek­erk.

“As an LGBTQ+ Foun­da­tion, we con­grat­u­late Net­care 911 for their swift re­ac­tion to the em­ployee’s in­ap­pro­pri­ate so­cial me­dia post this week,” he said. “So­ci­ety is built up of many groups with dif­fer­ent views. But it is the way that they treat each other, and even more so how they in pub­lic ac­com­mo­date each other’s point of views with re­spect and dig­nity, that dic­tates their re­la­tion­ship.

“South Africa has come far in its views… but sit­u­a­tions like th­ese show we some­times still have a long road ahead in our com­mu­ni­ties to achieve ac­cep­tance,” said Van Niek­erk.

Net­care 911 said the para­medic had been sus­pended pend­ing the hold­ing of a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing sched­uled for this week. “We com­pletely dis­tance our­selves from the para­medic’s un­ac­cept­able com­ments. We have a firm, ze­ro­tol­er­ance stance to­wards dis­crim­i­na­tion of any kind,” said man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Craig Grindell.

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