A Christian arts training centre in Bloemfontein has been found guilty of human rights violations for discriminating against homosexuals, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) ruled yesterday.
The SAHRC has recommended that the Creare Training Centre amend its constitution to accommodate diversity and attend “sensitisation workshops” conducted by the Institute for Social justice and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State, in collaboration with the South African Council of Churches.
In January, the Department of Justice ordered the SAHRC to investigate alleged anti-homosexual discrimimation by the centre, following media reports that it claims in its prospectus that it can cure gay students and that if they refused treatment they would be expelled. The centre responded by publishing a statement on its website saying it does not discriminate against anybody and offers a wide range of part-time courses to students irrespective of the race, religion or sexual orientation. It says that students considering its fulltime Bible School course, which accounts for less than 0.5% of its student component, are required to commit to pursuing a Biblical lifestyle that includes a heterosexual view on human sexuality.
According to its policy statement the centre is available to offer ministry support, in the form of Biblical teaching, prayer and encouragement to students who want to change their sexual orientation.
“We do not claim to have some methodology to cure those of homosexual orientation, as if homosexuality were a disease or illness,” says the document.
Creare head, Pastor Cornelis van Heyningen said at the time: “We respect the rights of people who believe they are born as homosexuals; but who is standing up for the rights of people of this orientation who want to change? Do they not have rights to live the changed life they desire? Where are their human rights facilitated?”
In a media statement released yesterday, Isaac Mangena, Head of Communications of the SAHRC, said it “received a complaint from the Deputy Minister of Justice & Constitutional Development, Honourable Andries Nel, requesting the Commission to investigate whether Creare Training Centre violated section 09 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108 of 1996) and the provision of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 2000 (Act 4 of 2000), by unfairly discriminating on people on the basis of sexual orientation.”
He said the SAHRC found that:
- “Creare Training Centre prospectus relating to relationship etiquette constitutes a violation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBTIs) right to equality, dignity, religion, freedom of association, freedom and security of the person and education.
- “The extent that sexual minorities have been victims of past patterns of discrimination that led to the systematic disadvantage, the relationship etiquette of Creare Training Centre has the potential effect of perpetuating decimation against LGBTI people
- “The Commission reject the exclusionary provision in the relationship etiquette and the justification offered by Creare Training Centre
- “Creare Training Centre’s provision in the relationship etiquette constitutes a violation of rights that has the potential of resulting in psychological and physical harm to members of LGTBI community”.