Cape Town - For the he second time in three years a Cape Town jeweller is in trouble with LGBTQIA+ activists for his religious beliefs which he says prevent him from making and selling engagement rings to same-sex couples.
Candice van Eck from Nelson Mandela Bay said Craig Quinton, the owner of Craig Marks Diamonds, turned her down after she approached him to make a ring for her engagement, saying his faith said that marriage could only be between a man and a woman.
The incident happened earlier in the year but Van Eck has only recently come forward with her complaint.
She said she did not wish to taint her engagement celebrations at the time of the incident.
Van Eck said: “It made me feel that we are not good enough. It’s meant to be something special, and he made me feel that I’m doing something completely wrong.”
After the Melkbosstrand jeweller refused to make them an engagement ring, the couple later got engaged in Greece with another ring.
As a result of Van Eck’s complaint, LGBTQIA+ activists have urged the SA Human Right Commission (SAHRC) to take a stand against service providers “who use their religious beliefs to treat LGBTQIA+ members of the public as second-class citizens.”
OUT LGBT Well-being’s LGBTQIA+ legal clinic has offered its support to Van Eck.
OUT human rights manager Lerato Phalakatshela said the jeweller’s actions violated the Constitution’s Bill of Rights and the Equality Act.
“These beliefs cannot be brought into their professional and public capacities and used as an excuse to discriminate against a protected group.”
Speaking to the Cape Argus, Quinton said he had addressed the issue in a statement on his website and on his company’s Facebook page.
The statement said in part: “While we will gladly accept an order from a homosexual customer to design and manufacture any other form of jewellery, our conscience before God prohibits us from designing and manufacturing rings for the purpose of marriage, which, according to the Bible, has a very specific definition and meaning.”
Quinton said for him to design and manufacture covenant rings for (and thereby participate in or celebrate) a same-sex marriage, would be to dishonour and disobey God and this could potentially have “eternal consequences”.
Quoting the Bible, he said this was too great a cost and if forced to compromise on his faith, he would have to “obey God rather than men”.
This is the second time that the company is reported to have discriminated against LGBTQIA+ individuals. In 2019, Craig Marks also refused to sell an engagement ring to another same-sex couple.
SAHRC Commissioner Andre Gaum said that while the commission had noted the incident and would investigate, it encouraged Van Eck to lodge a complaint as this would give the investigation greater impetus.
“In any event, we will look into it, but it would be helpful if they complained officially. Our view is that you cannot use your religious or cultural beliefs in a way that affects the rights of others.”