Beloftebos owners defend their right not to host same-sex weddings
Cape Town - A wedding venue that made headlines earlier this year for refusing to host a same-sex couple's wedding is adamant that they have done nothing wrong.
In January the owners of the controversial Beloftebos wedding venue in Standford, Western Cape, refused to host Sasha-Lee Heekes and fiancée Megan Watling's wedding ceremony.
The couple have taken their grievance to the South African Human Rights Commission which has vowed to pursue legal action against the venue.
The Beloftebos owners say they have not been formally informed of the SAHRC's intention to take them to the Equality Court and the only information that they have on the alleged legal action by SAHRC is what they have learned from media reports.
In a statement released on Monday, ForSA legal representative Daniela Ellerbeck said that no papers have been served on the owners and they were therefore not in a position to comment on the specifics of the case against them. The ANC has also indicated that it will pursue the matter in the Equality Court but neither the ruling party nor the SAHRC has indicated when the matter will be heard.
"Beloftebos’ decision not to organise and host same-sex weddings is because of the owners’ deeply held religious convictions that marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God, as well as a symbolic picture of the love and commitment between Christ (as the Bridegroom) and His Church (the Bride)," ForSA said.
In a post from January which has subsequently been removed from the Beloftebos website, the owners said: “We, the owners of Beloftebos are Christians who seek to honour and obey God in everything we do, including the way in which we operate our business.
"They are therefore not unfairly discriminating against anyone for who they love, or how they love. They welcome everyone equally to their venue and would happily organise a birthday party, an office year-end celebration or any similar event for a same-sex couple. The owners do believe however – based on the constitutional right to religious freedom and belief – that they should be allowed to differentiate between the events and activities that they are willing to facilitate on their property," ForSA continued.
"For example, because of their religious beliefs, they would also decline to host a Halloween party, regardless of who requested it.
"If the Court decides against Beloftebos and forces them to participate in and celebrate events that violate their conscience, religion and belief, then every supplier of goods and service provider in South Africa will equally be forced to accept work that they may fundamentally disagree with," the Christian NPO concluded.