The Sunday Sun was "disparaging" of homosexuals in publishing the column by reporter Jon Qwelane headlined: "Call me names, but gay is NOT okay", the press ombudsman has found.
Ombudsman Joe Thloloe received nearly 1000 complaints against the newspaper for publishing the column, he said in a statement this week.
Thloloe found that the newspaper had contravened the press code by publishing denigratory references to people's sexual orientation, implying that homosexuals were a lower breed than heterosexuals and publishing an accompanying cartoon disparaging of homosexuals.
Ordering that the newspaper publish an appropriate apology to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender community, to be provided by his office, Thloloe noted that it had already gone a long way to making amends for its offence.
The Joburg Gay Pride Festival had described the column as "a piece that amounts to hate speech", said Thloloe.
In analysing the complaints, Thloloe found that the thrust of the column was a call for a revision of the country's Constitution to take away the rights that homosexuals had won.
"This is the same type of debate as those on the death penalty and on proportional representation," Thloloe said.
"It is robust language, but not hate speech ...," said Thloloe.
It was "not a bad judgment", said Sunday Sun publisher Deon du Plessis this week, describing it as "pretty even-handed".
About the apology, he said: "Let's see what he wants me to apologise for ... what terms he wants."
He would not say if action would be taken against Qwelane. - Sapa