The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has ruled against the Dutch Reformed Church’s (NG Kerk) homophobic policy of refusing to perform same-sex marriages, by arguing that “it devalues the integrity of its gay and lesbian members”.
According to MambaOnline, the ruling was made at the beginning of March and refers to the church’s controversial November 2016 policy, which, in turn, reversed a landmark October 2015 decision by the institution to let individual church councils recognise and bless same-sex relationships and to allow non-celibate gay clergy.
Reading out the verdict, judges Daisy Molefe, Sulette Potterill and Joseph Raulinga declared that it found the church’s 2016 policy unlawful and invalid, subsequently setting it aside. The ruling also found that it was unfair to exclude members of the church “from the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms that the church offered” on the basis of their sexual orientation.
“On the one hand, it’s the conflict between the right of freedom of religion and the right not to be discriminated against, based on sexual orientation,” the verdict read.
Following the ruling, Rev Laurie Gaum, told MambaOnline that they are very happy with the results.
“We had a good day in court and justice has been done,” Rev Laurie Gaum, who took the matter to court along with 10 other members of the church. Our request on constitutional grounds has also been granted which has implications for all other denominations and religions, so it’s quite amazing,” he said, adding that the court had confirmed that the church’s actions did “not affirm human dignity and have been discriminatory, violating the constitutional provision which prohibits sexual orientation discrimination”.