A report in the Swazi Observer comparing LGBT people in Swaziland / Eswatini to child molesters and people who have sex with animals was hate speech. It lied to the newspaper’s readers and broke the Observer’s own code of ethical reporting standards.
The report on Thursday (21 June 2018) concerned a proposed LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Pride event due to take place on 30 June 2018. It is being organised by Rock of Hope and is the first of its kind. It has received international support.
The newspaper, in effect owned by King Mswati III sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported the Pride had been met with ‘anger and despair’ by people within Swaziland and talked of a letter from ‘concerned parents’ against the event. It did not tell readers that the letter was an online petition from an organisation previously exposed as hate-mongers. No person from Swaziland was quoted in the report.
The report gave details of the letter that demonised LGBT people and said they were a danger to children.
The report was hate speech and broke Article 13 of the Swaziland National Association of Journalists code of conduct which states, ‘Hate speech: ‘Journalists shall avoid by all means the publication of speech that might promote hatred, spite and conflict amongst the Swazi or any other nation.’
Hate speech is a type of speech or writing which can do any of the following: deliberately offend, degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against someone based on their race, ethnicity, profession, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. It can be aimed at an individual; or racial, ethnic, religious or other group. Such speech generally seeks to condemn or dehumanize the individual or group; or express anger, hatred, violence or contempt toward them.
The group writing the petition calls itself Parents of Eswatini (Parents of Swaziland). It published it on the CitizenGo website. The petition appears to originate in Germany.
In April 2018 Swazi Media Commentary exposed the website as a hate group. CitizenGo started in Spain in 2013 as a project of an organisation called HazteOir. It now claims to have millions of supporters in more than 50 countries, according to the Open Democracy website.
It reported, ‘HatzeOir was founded in 2001. [In 2017], a team of investigators in Spain traced links between the group and “El Yunque”, a mysterious secret society that allegedly has cells across Mexico and the US mobilised to “defend the Catholic religion and fight the forces of Satan though violence or murder”, according to Mexican investigative journalist Alvaro Delgado. Previously, in 2014 a judge dismissed a claim by HazteOir disputing links between the groups.
‘CitizenGo describes itself as “pro-family” and a defender of life, family, freedom, and dignity. Madrid lawyer Ignacio Arsuaga, reportedly the great-grandson of the late dictator General Francisco Franco, sits at the helm of both it and HatzeOir,’ the website reported.
The Political Research Associates website reported, ‘CitizenGo has a variety of longstanding ties to right-wing organizations and right-wing efforts around the globe.’
It added, it operated primarily through an online petition platform ‘to push an anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion agenda’.
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