Friday, July 02, 2010

Response to Inter Religious Organisation on condemnation of the film festival

Dear Editor
Thanks for publishing this open letter to the Inter-Religious Organisation, since we do not think it is appropriate to write to them in care of the Ethnic Relations Commission’s Secretariat - which we believe is a publicly-funded, state body and not a faith institution.

To The Members of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO):

We were surprised to read reports in sections of the press that comments made by the Chair of the Ethnic Relations Commission, and Public Relations Officer of the IRO, Mr. Edghill, about the SASOD Film Festival. We are very concerned about the allegations made against SASOD - and by extension Sidewalk CafĂ© – about breaking the law and we regret that the IRO did not seek to raise any issues with us to clarify their misconceptions instead of making these baseless allegations in the public domain, which we view as damaging to our good name and reputation and that of our associates and partners.

In a society which is marred by conflict and the abuses of power, it is not easy to try alternative ways of engagement which are not meant to destroy or humiliate. But, try we must and in the spirit of the Film Festival's mission to promote discussion and education about the diversity of sexual orientations and
gender identities in this country, we therefore make ourselves available to dialogue with the IRO and with any other interested parties about their concerns.

The SASOD Film Festival engages every year with faith and spirituality, and we affirmed this year at our “Spectrum Celebration” concert the importance of faith and spirituality in the face of all oppressions. We hope that the dialogue with IRO could begin with those common values. We can be contacted via email at or by telephone at 698-1174, 686-0835 or 617-6107.

Yours respectfully,

Joel Simpson and
Namela Baynes-Henry
on behalf of SASOD