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SAHRC takes Beloftebos wedding venue to court for rejecting same-sex couple

Megan Watling and Sasha-Lee Heekes were told that the Beloftebos Wedding Venue would not host their special day in April 2021, because of their sexual orientation.

Sasha-Lee Heekes and Megan Watling. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is launching a court application against the Beloftebos wedding venue at the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

Recently, a same-sex couple were denied the right to get married as the Stanford venue.

Megan Watling and Sasha-Lee Heekes were told that the Beloftebos Wedding Venue would not host their special day in April 2021 because of their sexual orientation.

The SAHRC said it viewed Beloftebos’ conduct as unconstitutional as one could not on the basis of their religious beliefs, discriminate against the sexual orientation of others.

SA Human Rights Commissioner Andre Gaum said they were consolidating a similar matter of 2017 and the most recent matter.

“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.”

BELOFTEBOS RESPONSE TO SAHRC'S LEGAL ACTION

In a statement on Monday, Beloftebos said that it had learned through the media of the SAHRC's intention of taking the matter to the Equality Court. It said that it had not been served with court papers and were thus unable to comment on specific allegations.

The venue owners then explained their decision to reject Heekes and Watling's wedding.

"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."

The owners added that if the court ruled against them in this matter "then every supplier of goods and service provider in South Africa will equally be forced to accept work that they may fundamentally disagree with".