Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
15 November 2006

Mosiuoa Lekota, champion for gay rights?

During the National Assembly debate on the Civil Union Bill yesterday, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota made a stirring speech, saying that same-sex marriages should be afforded similar space as heterosexual marriages “in the sunshine of democracy”, and noting that men and women of homosexual and lesbian orientation “joined the ranks of the democratic forces” in the struggle for liberation.

According to ANC sources Lekota also made a decisive intervention at the ANC caucus meeting last Monday during the debate about the Bill, telling those members of the caucus who oppose same sex marriage that they had no choice but to support the Civil Union Bill. Same-sex marriage was a matter of discrimination, not of conscience, and the ANC had always been against discrimination of any kind.

The reason for this support stems from Lekota’s days as a Delmas treason trialist in the late eighties. One of his co-accused was Simon Nkoli who came out of the closet to his comarades during the trial. This action and the debates it inspired (they had lots of time to debate in those Delmas prison cells) prompted UDF leaders such as co-defendants Popo Molefe and Patrick Lekota to recognize homophobia as a form of oppression. Nkoli tragically died of Aids related ilness in 1998.

It just goes to show how people can change their view once confronted with a real life homosexual/black person/American. I will drink a glass of wine in honour of Nkoli tonight. Without him, and without people like Lekota who saw the link between various kinds of oppression, the Civil Union Bill would not have been possible. Neither would our progressive Constitution.

SHARE:     
BACK TO TOP
2015 Constitutionally Speaking | website created by Idea in a Forest