By Karen Breytenbach

The Cape Town circuit of the Dutch Reformed Church has suspended gay dominee Laurie Gaum and set a condition that he agrees to live a celibate life, following a four-month investigation into the relationship Gaum had with his former lover who com- mitted suicide earlier this year.

The commission of inquiry of the presbytery of Cape Town in a report released yesterday also recommended that the general synod of the Dutch Reformed Church suspend Gaum's authority to practise as minister of St Stephen's Church on Riebeeck Square. Also, that "re-admission be subjected to an undertaking by Gaum to be celibate towards people of the same sex".

This follows a report released by the general synod of the church last year, stipulating the church's acceptance of gay members on the condition they live according to the church's guidelines.

Dr Francois Wessels, pastor of the Cape Peninsula Reformed Church and member of the commission of inquiry, said the commission found proof that Gaum had a sexual relationship with his partner of four years, Douw Wessels, and although it appeared to be a loving partnership, was still unacceptable to the church.

"Gaum was not kicked out of the church, but was suspended and the condition set that he be celibate," said Wessels.

Gaum said he might ultimately consider legal action.