Other Religious Freedom Issues

by Daniela Ellerbeck
8 August 2017

Concerns in which FOR SA is or may become involved:

  • The Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill:

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services has invited comments on the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill. The Bill contains broad provisions that could potentially be used to curb freedom of (religious) expression, and with regard to which FOR SA will be making submissions to the Committee. (The Bill can be viewed here – https://pmg-assets.s3-website-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/170221b_6_-_2017_cybercrimes.pdf)

The deadline for comments is 10 August. Comments can be e-mailed to [email protected]parliament.gov.za

  • Issue Paper: The Right to Know One’s Own Biological Origins:

The South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) has invited comments on its Issue Paper on whether a child should have a legal right to know his or her biological origins and how such a right could be enforced, and whether the law should be amended in light of prevailing and anticipated circumstances and contemporary mores and thinking. The Paper includes topics such as “three-parent babies” and “womb transplants”, which may raise some serious religious, moral or ethical concerns. (The Issue Paper is available here – https://pmg-assets.s3-website-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/170720righttoknowonesownbiologicalorigns.pdf)

The deadline for comments is 31 August. Comments can be e-mailed to [email protected]

  • Parents’ right to chastise their children:

On 21 August, the Johannesburg High Court will be considering a father’s appeal against his conviction on common assault of his 13-year old son.  The father bases his defence on his common law right to moderate and reasonable chastisement for purposes of maintaining authority and discipline. FOR SA has been invited by the Court to make amicus curiae submissions with regard the constitutionality of this defence, taking into account the right to religious freedom.

  • Beloftebos:

This month, Beloftebos Wedding Venue, Stanford has come under fire for refusing, on grounds of conscience and religious belief, to host a same-sex wedding ceremony. LGBT activists are threatening to take Beloftebos to the Equality Court should they not immediately change their wedding policy, and have also launched a smear campaign against the venue on social media, including demands upon suppliers and other couples who were married at Beloftebos to join in boycotting the venue. (For Beloftebos’ Media Statement in this regard, see www.beloftebos.co.za). FOR SA is assisting the owners of Beloftebos in defending their right to religious freedom and conscientious objection.

  • SAHRC v Gretha Wiid:

Following receipt of 63+ complaints, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on 17 July delivered a letter on well-known Christian author and evangelist Gretha Wiid, inviting her response within 21 days to certain allegations of unfair discrimination and “hate speech” against LGBT people, emanating from her books “Lyfslim vir Meisies” en “Lyfslim vir Seuns”. The letter invites her response, amongst other things, on the question of whether people are “born gay”; whether people can change their sexual orientation; and the appropriateness or otherwise of “gay conversion therapy”.

  • Gaum & Others vs The Dutch Reformed Church & Others:

Legal proceedings have been instituted in the Pretoria High Court to review and set aside the decision of the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) in November 2016 to reverse their earlier decision of October 2015 (allowing pastors of the DRC to solemnise same-sex civil unions).

The applicants, who are members or allies of the LGBT community, claim that the 2016 decision is procedurally flawed (and therefore reviewable) because the Church failed to comply with certain procedural provisions in the Church Order, the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) and/or the Constitution itself. Significantly, the applicants claim that that 2016 decision should be set aside, because it amounts to unfair discrimination against LGBT people; diminishes the dignity of members of the LGBT community; “deprives them of the opportunity to celebrate the most important event of most individuals’ lives in their own church” and, as such, is also unconstitutional. The DRC is currently in the process of preparing their answering papers, and there is no date yet for the hearing of the matter.

  • Oscar Bougardt:

At the end of last month, Mambaonline reported that pastor Oscar Bougardt has been charged with contempt of court for failing to uphold a 2014 court approved settlement in terms of which he “agreed to stop making discriminatory or hateful comments against the LGBT community. He also apologised and asked for forgiveness”. According to the report, the SAHRC now wants the pastor to be jailed for 30 days and fined R500,000 “for blatantly flouting the agreement and continuing to attack LGBT people on social media and in the press, including making hateful comments on Mambaonline”. (For more details, see https://www.mambaonline.com/2017/07/28/unbelievable-pastor-bougardt-pleads-innocence-calling-gay-people-fs/?platform=hootsuite)

Support FOR SA

Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) is dedicated to protecting and preserving the freedoms and rights that the South African Constitution has granted to the faith community. You can help FOR SA protect our freedom by:

  • Praying for us as we defend this precious freedom before government and courts of law;
  • Signing up (at no cost) to FOR SA at https://forsa.org.za/contact-us/join-us/and subscribing to our Newsletter;
  • Following us, and sharing our posts, on Facebook  at “Freedom of Religion SA”;
  • Informing us, should you become aware of any case in which religious freedom is threatened;
  • Making a financial contribution to FOR SA at https://forsa.org.za/donate/As a non-profit organisation, we are entirely dependent upon God’s grace for finances. Your generosity will help make a significant difference as we work to fulfill our mission to keep the Gospel free by advocating for religious freedom. We appreciate every gift, big or small!
Share This