By (Freedom of Religion SA) FOR SA
The Department of Justice has released the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Amendment Bill (the Amendment Bill) for public comment until Wednesday May 12.
We believe that this Amendment Bill represents “possibly the biggest single threat to religious freedom of individuals, religious institutions/organisations, and even NPOs, that we have experienced to date”.
The video below explains the main issues of concern.
The Amendment Bill seeks to address weaknesses in the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 4 of 2000 (PEPUDA or “the Equality Act”). However, in the process it:
- significantly broadens the definitions of “discrimination” and “equality” found in the Act;
- seeks to extend the scope of the prohibition of unfair discrimination; and
- provides for “joint and several liability”. This means that employers will be liable for the discriminatory actions of their employees, even if the employer did not know about it and even if the employee did not act intentionally.
FOR SA is currently in the process of conducting a detailed evaluation of this Amendment Bill, consulting local and international legal experts and academics for their views. Over the next two weeks, we will collate, distil and summarise these inputs, whereupon we will present our concerns in detail on why we believe that this Amendment Bill is such a major threat, particularly regarding its implications for religious organisations and people of faith.
FOR SA will also inform you of opportunities – as part of the democratic process – where you can become involved to oppose this Amendment Bill to make sure that your voice is heard and your views taken into account.
Call to action
FOR SA has already written to the Department of Justice and we been granted an extension of the deadline for comment on this Bill to Wednesday June 30. However, we have now received communication from the Department of Justice to state that they “do not agree to a general extension for the submission of comments” and that they will only consider this should “requests be sent directly to us for consideration”.
Given that this new law will impact every South African – particularly people of faith – we encourage you to write to the Department of Justice today to indicate that you intend to make a submission, but need more time to consider the Bill, take (legal) advice, consult with your leadership and/or constituency and prepare an appropriate submission (or something along those lines). You accordingly request an extension to comment until Wednesday June 30.