An application by an anti-LGBT group challenging the ruling ordering the Dutch Reformed Church (NG Kerk) to stop discriminating against same-sex couples has been rejected by the North Gauteng High Court.
This comes after the historic ruling in March by the High Court which ruled that the church’s refusal to recognise same-sex unions and non-celibate gay ministers was unprocedural, discriminatory and unconstitutional.
It was a decision praised by LGBTQ rights groups. However, conservative Christian groups were angered by the court’s ruling and see it as imposing on their right to religious freedom.
An application was submitted by the Alliance Defending the Autonomy of Churches in South Africa (ADACSA) group for clarification on whether the judgment was made on procedural (under the church’s own rules) as well as substantive (constitutional) grounds.
On Friday, May 10 the application was dismissed by the full bench after lengthy arguments.
According to MambaOnline, the court said that ADACSA couldn’t prove it is a directly affected party in the case. More significantly, the judges also felt that there was no ambiguity or omission in the judgment.
The court’s decision has lead ADACSA to withdraw its application for leave to appeal the March ruling to the Supreme Court of Appeal. The NG Kerk has also indicated that it will not appeal judgement.
However, Executive Director of Freedom of Religion South Africa Michael Swain said the dismissal “does not necessarily mean that ADACSA will not appeal”.
“The High Court’s entanglement in what is squarely a doctrinal issue – namely whether or not the Church should be forced to allow practicing homosexuals to hold leadership roles, and also to solemnise same-sex unions – remains a serious concern and sets a dangerous legal precedent,” said Swain as is one of the organisations that is part of ADACSA.
“This is a further victory for the equality of sexual minorities in religious communities and we trust that this is the end of the road for ADACSA’s efforts here,” said Laurie Gaum, a gay Dutch Reformed minister and applicant in the case of Gaum and others v General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church.
Adding, “Perhaps it’s rather an invitation to them to assist the constituency they seek to represent to affirm the human dignity of all”.