Court orders Labia Theatre to screen film highlighting plight of Palestinians
Cape Town - The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has claimed victory after the Western Cape High Court ordered the Labia Theatre to screen the film The Roadmap To Apartheid within 60 days.
The ruling, which has been hailed by the PSC as a victory for human rights and free speech, follows a battle between the PSC and the Labia Theatre to screen the documentary, which compares the circumstances of Palestinians living in the occupied territories to the plight of black South Africans during apartheid, and highlights the oppression of Palestinians in Israel.
The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) representing the PSC said the theatre had refused to screen the movie which was meant to be part of a PSC event, and had termed it “highly controversial”.
“The Labia, an independent cinema operating since 1989, promotes itself as available to be hired by the members of the public for private screenings. (Owner) Ludi Kraus of the Labia, after researching the nature of the PSC film, refused to screen the documentary on the basis that it was a ‘highly controversial film’ and an ‘anti-Zionist production’.
“The substantive question before the court was whether the Labia’s conduct by not screening the film on two occasions amounted to unlawful discrimination on the prohibited grounds of ‘conscience and belief’ or on a ‘comparable ground’ in terms of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000.
“The Labia refused to screen the film and the PSC held the view that their conduct in refusing to screen this documentary amounted to unfair discrimination,” the LRC said.
In court papers, the court stated that the theatre did not only refuse to show the film twice, but also gave statements “to the media attacking the documentary”.
“The comments made by the Labia to the press demonstrate the underlying nature of discrimination. It is clear that the nature and extent of the discrimination against the belief and conscience held by the PSC and as presented in the film cannot be underestimated,” court documents read.
High Court Judge André le Grange ordered the theatre to screen the film within 60 days, as well as to pay the costs of the application, while the PSC was ordered to pay for the rental costs associated with leasing the Labia for screening the film.
Kraus referred questions to his attorney on Sunday and provided the Cape Times with an email address. An automated response from his legal representative said he was on leave until Tuesday.