Stanford-based wedding venue Beloftebos. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)
Stanford-based wedding venue Beloftebos. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Women’s Legal Centre applies to be amicus curae in case of Beloftebos Wedding Venue refusing same-sex couple

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Nov 16, 2021

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Cape Town - The Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) has applied to be a friend of the court in the case of the same-sex couple whose plan to hold their wedding at the Beloftebos Wedding Venue was rejected in January last year.

The owners of the venue in Stanford, near Hermanus, refused to host Sasha-Lee Heekes’s and Megan Watling’s wedding because of their religious conviction that “marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God”.

The refusal led Heekes and Watling to complain to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) which undertook to pursue legal action against the venue at the Equality Court of the Western Cape High Court.

WLC spokesperson Ru du Toit said human rights actors continue to stand firm against the worrying trend, increasing both globally and in South Africa, of using the right to freedom of religion to undermine the rights of LGBTQIA+ persons.

“The owners of the Beloftebos wedding venue should not be allowed to justify their actions on the grounds of religious freedom.

“We have applied to be amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the case specifically to focus on assisting the Court by providing an important feminist lens on the legal framework through which to view the legal issues before court," said Du Toit.

However, SAHRC Commissioner André Gaum said there was a possibility that the matter might not get to court.

“At the moment I am trying to see if we can settle the matter. Only if it isn’t settled or if it is only partially settled, shall we proceed to court,” he said.

In March last year Heekes and Watling cast doubts on the Commission’s motives for wanting to take the case to the Equality Court.

They said in a statement: “We simply do not trust the Commission to act in our best interests. The case has nothing to do with human rights or concern for the LGBTQIA+ community but is a case of cheap politics on behalf of the Commission. ”

They were unhappy that the Commission had combined their case with another from 2017 in which the Beloftebos Wedding Venue refused to host the wedding of another couple, Alexandra Thorne and Alex Lu who have since left South Africa.

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