The South African Human Rights Commission is launching a court case against the owners of a wedding venue accused of refusing a lesbian couple’s ceremony on religious grounds.
Megan Watling and Sasha-Lee Heekes were told that the Beloftebos wedding venue in the village of Stanford in the South African province of Western Cape would not host their big day in April 2021 because of their sexual orientation.
As a result, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said they will launch a court application against the Beloftebos wedding venue at the Western Cape High Court on 14th September.
The SAHRC said it viewed the venue’s conduct as unconstitutional because citizens are not allowed to discriminate against the sexual orientation of others based on their religious beliefs.
Human rights commissioner Andre Gaum said they were dealing with a similar matter from 2017 as well as the most recent incident.
Gaum added: “We will request the court to declare that Beloftebos and its owners are in breach of their obligations not to discriminate unfairly in terms of the Equality Court.
“Secondly, we will also request the court to restrain the venue and its owners from continuing to apply the blanket policy.”
In a statement on 14th September, Beloftebos said that they were aware of the SAHRC’s intentions, but had not yet been served with court papers so could not comment further on the allegations.
The owners also explained their reasoning for rejecting the same-sex couple’s wedding.
They said in a statement: “Beloftebos’ decision not to organise and host same-sex weddings is because of the owners’ deeply held religious convictions that marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God, as well as a symbolic picture of the love and commitment between Christ (as the Bridegroom) and His Church (the Bride).
“They are therefore not unfairly discriminating against anyone for who they love, or how they love.
“They welcome everyone equally to their venue and would happily organise a birthday party, an office year-end celebration or any similar event for a same-sex couple.
“The owners do believe, however, – based on the constitutional right to religious freedom and belief – that they should be allowed to differentiate between the events and activities that they are willing to facilitate on their property.
“For example, because of their religious beliefs, they would also decline to host a Halloween party, regardless of who requested it.”
Netizen ‘Yanga Zemba Zondi’ said: “Reading this has made me cry. I am so infuriated on your behalf and on behalf of our children who have to grow up in such a hateful world. These business owners must be prosecuted. We cannot allow this in South Africa.”
‘Caryn La Grange’ said: “If Christians are not comfortable to accommodate a same-sex marriage, how exactly is that hateful? How is that discrimination?
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