4 August 2017

The facts:

On 26 July, Beloftebos Wedding Venue received an online enquiry to host the same-sex wedding ceremony of Ms Alexandra Thorne and Ms Alex Lu. The completed form stated that “my [fiancé] and I intend on getting married in the US next year, and would like a more formal ceremony in SA. I'm a Cape Town native. She's from the US. We're both in love with the venue, and hope you're open to same-sex couples :)

In response to the enquiry, we replied as follows: “Dear Alexandra and Alex. Thanks so much for your enquiry. We really appreciate your compliments of the venue. However, unfortunately we will not be able to host your wedding. Warmest regards.

In response to the couple’s further enquiry “if the issue [was] with the dates”, we replied that “the issue is indeed not with the dates. The reason is that we only host heterosexual marriages. We wish not to offend with this but it is our venue policy.”

On 1 August, we received an e-mail from one Prof Pierre de Vos, alleging that we are breaching the law and “can be dragged before the Equality Court and made to pay a fine”. He threatened that we would “also be forced to change our policy. Bad publicity will also follow”, and demanded that we “change [our] policy within 48 hours”.

On 2 August, the same Prof de Vos sent an e-mail to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) (and copied us into an e-mail), requesting the SAHRC to investigate the matter and “hold Beloftebos accountable in some way”.

Prof de Vos also sent us a further e-mail, threatening to “take [us] to the Equality Court because of [our] homophobic discrimination”. The same e-mail said that he has “started a social media campaign and reached out to various journalists to publish [our] homophobia”.

Since then, we have indeed suffered a vicious public attack on the Beloftebos Facebook page and other social media, replete with threatening, offensive and hateful comments.

The venue’s position:

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 (the wedding venue). While the venue is available to people of all race, our Biblical conviction is that marriage is reserved for a life-long commitment between one man and one woman. This is a deeply held belief (not only for us, but for the vast majority of Christians around the world for over 2000 years) and is a foundational part of our faith as Christians.

This belief in turn guides our venue’s policy. It is our conscience before God which prohibits us from hosting any other kind of “marriage” on our property – not a fear or hatred of homosexual people (“homophobia”) as we have unfairly been accused of. For us, to host (and thereby enable, or celebrate) a same-sex “marriage”, would be to dishonour and disobey God – potentially with eternal consequences. This is too great a cost and if forced to compromise on our faith, we would have to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

At the same time, we appreciate and respect that South Africa is an open and democratic society where people are free to live their lives as they choose – including the right to conclude same-sex “marriages”. We respect this freedom of choice, and simply ask that our freedom of choice (to believe, and live our lives according to, the Bible) be respected also. Our Constitution does not require everyone to believe the same, and does not punish people for holding divergent beliefs and opinions.

We have taken legal advice and been advised that the Constitution prohibits unfair discrimination on grounds of conscience, religion and belief (s 9) – and specifically also guarantees freedom of conscience, religion and belief as a fundamental human right (s 15). As such, it is not correct that our decision (based upon our religious convictions and beliefs) not to host same-sex wedding ceremonies automatically amounts to unfair discrimination or is illegal. To date, no South African court has found that this is the case.

In relation to the malicious public attack on Beloftebos’ Facebook page and on social media, we have been advised to consider laying charges of crimen injuria with the SAPS and to lodge a complaint regarding the abuse of our right to dignity and the exercise of our freedom of religion. We sincerely hope that this will not be necessary, and trust that this statement will clarify our position. However, should we continue to suffer threats, harassment or hate speech, we may have no alternative but to follow our legal representatives’ advice and take the necessary legal action, which could include an application for a protection order.

Finally, and to the extent that Ms Thorne and Ms Lu may feel disappointed by our response to their query, we want to assure them that we never intended any malice or judgment towards them. While we do not expect them to agree with our Biblical convictions, we trust that they will respect and appreciate our position. We hope that they will find a suitable alternative venue which will be happy to host their ceremony and celebrate what is a special occasion for them.

Issued by:
THE OWNERS OF BELOFTEBOS

For media enquiries, contact:
Mr Michael Swain
Executive Director, Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA)
Tel: 072 270 1217
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Beloftebos Hours

Monday – Thursday: Office days 09:00 – 17:00

available on email and phone

Fridays & Saturdays: Wedding days

Available for guided site visits – please book in advance.
Emails received between Friday and Sunday will be answered on a Monday.

Sundays: Closed
Tuesday site visits: By appointment only booked a week in advance.
Closed on public holidays & Easter weekend – venue open for your own unguided tour.

You are most welcome to visit Beloftebos outside of these times but please note a guided tour needs to be booked in advance.

Connect with us

Wedding / Event enquiries
Coia de Villiers: 076 332 8522
info@beloftebos.co.za

Accommodation enquiries:
Jann Gafney: 082 479 1113
stay@beloftebos.co.za

Catering and Events:
Corneli from Cornelia’s Catering: 072 111 9380
corneli@beloftebos.co.za

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