Venue ordered not to bar gays, lesbians

2012-08-01 13:03

Johannesburg - The Equality Court has fined a functions venue and ordered it to allow homosexuals on its premises, after it refused to let a lesbian couple celebrate their wedding there.

According to the University of Pretoria's human rights centre, the couple complained that they were not allowed to publicly celebrate their civil union at Sha-Mani functions venue in Alberton last year.

On Tuesday, the court ordered Sha-Mani to pay R20 000 to OUT, a non-governmental organisation that provides health services to gays and lesbians.

Frans Viljoen, of the centre for human rights at the University of Pretoria, said Francis and Liani Buitendag first visited Sha-Mani in March last year while looking for a venue for their wedding.

They had entered into a civil union earlier during the year.

Viljoen's organisation helped the couple with the case. He said the couple encountered difficulties when they tried to obtain a suitable date for the function immediately after their visit.

‘Venue was available’

Staff at the venue told them that the venue was not available, said Viljoen.

"They enlisted the help of our heterosexual friends, who found out that the venue was actually available."

Sha-Mani withheld from them the opportunity to hire the venue of their choice, he said.

"Frequent reports about violence against lesbian women underline the serious failure of our laws to undo homophobic attitudes and actions," Viljoen said.

According to the couple, Sha-Mani never openly indicated to them that it was discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

"We really hope this case will help others in the homosexual community to realise they can stand up against unfair discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation," Francis Buitendag said after the trial.

  • charlie.vanbergen - 2012-08-01 13:29

    This is called choice of association. I refuse to print anything that I deem pornographic and no court will force me to print material that is offensive to me. If I have a restaurant and find a homosexual life style offensive, it is my right to ask the prospective client to rather take his/her business elsewhere.

      richard.hipkin - 2012-08-01 13:30

      Maybe but then that is discrimination and that my dear fellow is illegal, deal with it. - 2012-08-01 13:48

      You are not allowed to refuse people entry to your restaurant on the grounds of their sexual preference; and your porn argument above will not hold up in court either.

      crazyjourno - 2012-08-01 13:48

      So in other words I can kick pompous, overly-loud, biggoted, chauvinistic pigs out of my restaurant, since I find that behaviour very offensive?!? Ps, you will lose clientele dooche! Get a life worth living, and not one you were borne into...

      andre.swanepoel.900 - 2012-08-01 13:49

      Brilliant South Africa. Equality is important for a nation to be able to stand together and to take serious action against those that act from a position of prejudice. Choice of association is just another way to say I am superior and better than you are. Cultural, religious and historical stories and ideas about sexuality that are informed from a position of truth is not helpful to create a rich meaning and understanding for one another. We are living in a post modern science and psychological world where we realised that absolute truths are not helpful as it creates a position of stuckness and hinder curiosity and growth.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 13:52

      Charlie - you DO know we're not in the dark ages anymore, right?

      mike.boylen - 2012-08-01 13:52

      @charlie.vanbergen. Presumably that means that any white owner who doesn't want to associate with black people has the right to tell them to take their business elsewhere. Bigotry is bigotry no matter which way you practice it.

      graeme.speed.35 - 2012-08-01 13:57

      so if you don't like a particular race either, you'll ask them to leave as well? You're just a bigot and should leave and go to North Korea or somewhere else deserving of you and your kind

      Warren - 2012-08-01 13:59

      If a racist owns a restaurant can they deny access to other races? No. This is no different

      morientes.munez - 2012-08-01 14:09

      charlie.vanbergen - I agree with you 100 %. I FIND THIS RULING SO UNFAIR. Who has the right to rule that people with freaky and offensive lifestyles can decide on the property owner or business owner where and what they want to do. If you do not agree and politely refuse, you are fined. The Parliament is a public place and property of the people, thus if they do not use it for the day, I can have meeting with my people of choice, if they refuse us, I can sue them and get paid, by the look of it.

      JohncarlosBiza - 2012-08-01 14:20

      @Munez there are grounds you can't discriminate on, including sexual orientation

      lila.hearst - 2012-08-01 14:45

      @Charlie. Agreed. What I find amazing is that they force you to allow a lesbian wedding on the premises but KFC can fire you for eating non-halaal food inside. Marriage has a religious origin stemming as far back as the book of Job. I don't understand why homosexuals don't create their own "tradition" which the law can choose to recognise. If you're not a christian or muslim or etc. then why in the world do you want to follow a religious tradition? Form a partnership, it's legal and not religious instead of trying to force people of certain faiths to accept what you're doing when its against their faith. It's not gonna happen, you're beating a dead horse.

      pierre.devilliers.9231 - 2012-09-08 02:28

      @Charlie and Morientes - look at your thumb down count. Quite a few people dissagree with you. The basic point is that if you have a business (e.g. a restaruant) you then provide a service to the entire community and it is not up to you to decide who you want or don't want in your business (of course up to the point of illegal behaviour by customers). You have to treat all your customers equal irrespective of race, sexual orientation, religion, language etc. This is not runaway PC or blind liberal thinking, but to explain put yourself in a similar situation. How would you feel if you enter a restaurant and been shown the door because they don't serve white, Afrikaans, Christians?

      christopher.m.lowe - 2012-10-31 15:26

      This is NOT called "choice of association", Charlie. It's called 'discrimination" and it's illegal.

      Winston Jackson - 2013-08-13 16:56

      point blank thats what you lot stand for "blank" it means empty in case you dont know. If the law says its ok to murder I suppose you gays are ok with that. These are man made laws and I dont bow to man. End of story, case closed, schools out court adjourned.

  • Tony - 2012-08-01 13:34

    What about "we reserve the right of admission" that was frequently displayed at establishments?

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 13:51

      Right of admission does not supersede the country's constitution, which clearly states you cannot discriminate against gender or sexual orientation.

      pierre.devilliers.9231 - 2012-09-08 02:40

      Yes the old "Reserve right of admission" sign. I remember in the years before '94 it was used by the English bigots in Cape Town that wanted a "whites only" establishment, but was too ashamed to put a “whites only” sign up. In the years after '94 all the racist restaurant owners used the “reserve right of admission” sign as synonymous for “whites only”. I am glad we have moved on from those years.

  • joao.r.oliveira1 - 2012-08-01 13:51

    A law that seeks to force you to do something that runs counter to your conscience it a law that should be reviewed and questioned. I recall a time when refusing to accept that you had to do army service was deemed to be against the law and those acting according to their conscience were imprisoned. When ever we make choices according to conscience that is a risk that someone will cry discrimination.

      mike.boylen - 2012-08-01 13:57

      Why don't you just bring back apartheid? It amounts to the same thing.

      ian.harrison.52035 - 2012-08-01 13:59

      Quite right! I am sure there were many other places that would have accepted them. They were just out to be confrontational.

      lizzyvd - 2012-08-01 14:09

      And for how many people 30 years ago it was against their conscience for a black and a white person to marry?? Based on what?? What does your conscience have to do with 2 consenting adults' lifestyle choice?

      crazyjourno - 2012-08-01 14:10

      @Ian, so if you are in a pub and you whistle to a lady walking by, or compliments the lady serving you for that matter, the restaurant owner may just as well kick you out, 'since you are "also just out to be confrontational", because, SHE IS A FEMINIST. Just like you seem to be a homophobe! Get a life mate. This ain't the Stone Age bru!

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 14:29

      Erm a pretty bad analogy there buddy - getting shot at by being forced to join the army for two years is a far cry from allowing Lesbians into your bar.

      joao.r.oliveira1 - 2012-08-01 14:58

      To be clear - for those of you who do not understand what it means to act against your conscience: If you're a priest and the law has changed forcing you to marry people of the same sex, something which you consider to be immoral, then you are by law being forced to act against your conscience. If you are a business owner that owns a B&B catering for newly weds, and if you happen to feel that homosexuality is immoral, but because of the law you are forced to admit a newly wed homo couple, then the law is forcing you to act against your conscience. The issue here is about a law that forces you to do something which goes against your conscience, so the example of conscription was appropriate. Likewise there are many other unjust laws, including the law that prevent people of different colour from marrying, but this law was wrong for different reasons, not because it violated moral conscience.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 15:16

      So it's okay to be a bigot and not a racist? You don't make any logical or moral sense pal.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 15:24

      To be clear with you: Religion and State are (supposedly) separate - unless a religion does something illegal of course. A business however, operates under government laws which are (supposedly) based on the constitution. A business is not a religion, so you cannot compare the two rightfully. A business, such as a restaurant is open to the public - and anything open to the public is beholden to the laws and legislations as dictated by government. One of those laws is NO DISCRIMINATION. Finished and klaar. You can "discriminate" if that person or persons will directly harm your business and you can prove it in a court of law - for example if they behave badly, are not dressed appropriately, or for example if all the customers you serve are rampant old school militant church freaks who will boycott your business if you allow lesbians in - then you *might* have a case.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 15:25

      But you'd need a damn good lawyer...

  • arm.witmens - 2012-08-01 13:59

    So the state now determines who private business owners chooses to serve? Hmmm..."Right of Admission Reserverd" apparently means nothing. If the owner of the property and business chooses to screen his clientele, why make it illegal? If a political party like Azapo can refuse whites from their ranks, why then is that legal and acceptable? The norms and principles of applying your mind to a set of problems seems to very different and it varies from day to day.

      mike.boylen - 2012-08-01 14:03

      The Right of Admission is not there to protect uneducated bigots. It's purpose is for the management to refuse admission to people inappropriately dressed, drunk and disorderly, etc. etc.

      arm.witmens - 2012-08-01 14:15

      "uneducated bigots" - so, you are in a class better than the aforementioned. Let the bigots and uneducated suffer. LOL. Try thinking before you commit "thoughts" to keyboard. That statement in itself tells me you are a racist and elitist hiding behind a facade of pleasantry and BS. Try some lateral thinking.

      mike.boylen - 2012-08-01 14:22

      I fail to see where my comments show me to be a racist. You have just proved you belong in the category I mentioned. And yes, I do feel unashamedly superior to bigots.

      arm.witmens - 2012-08-01 14:23

      you are so right. You Fail to see......

      richard.hipkin - 2012-08-01 14:23

      Azapo do not deny access to whites... this is 2012, not 1980

      richard.hipkin - 2012-08-01 14:24

      Wow arm, I suggest you look in the mirror first.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 14:35

      Absolutely - but like I mentioned above discriminating against someones sexual orientation goes against our constitution. Those who bar black / white people from bars / clubs and restaurants are being unconstitutional and can be challenged in court. Let's play a scenario: A bergie and a Lesbian are denied access to a restaurant. Your reasons for barring the bergie can be many - they have no money and can't afford your food and services, they small bad, are dirty and wear dirty clothes. Your reason for barring a well dressed Lesbian with boodles of cash is what? If they were groping each other at the table (basically indecent behaviour which applies to heterosexuals as well) sure you can have them legally booted. Basically, unless there's a valid argument against allowing them (it will damage your business - if so how) then your "right of admission" does not stand in a court.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 14:40

      As for Azapo not allowing whites to join, if a white really wanted to join they could take them to the constitutional court, and Azapo would have to have very valid reasons as to exclude them. Then one can use the good old corporate tactic to get rid of someone you don't want - make life unbearable for them so they leave out of their own choice.

      arm.witmens - 2012-08-01 14:42

      From their website : "AZAPO blames and will continue to blame white people for racism. They invented it to justify their theft of our land and our wealth. They passed laws to systematise it and to criminalise us for resisting it. They practised it with brutal determination and pride." - Now, try filling in a membership form. Go on, give it a go. Let me know how it works out for you.....

      arm.witmens - 2012-08-01 14:46

      Well said Hugh. Food for thought.

  • DebbyQuerido - 2012-08-01 14:04

    If you want to operate a business in a free society like South Africa, then you have to conduct it in an open-minded way. If you can't do that, perhaps you, and your business, would be better suited to somewhere like Libya or North Korea, where narrow-minded like yours is encouraged.

  • leigh.ridgway - 2012-08-01 14:07

    Okay Tony, fair enough but does 'right of admission reserved' mean that if you don't like black people that it's okay not to allow them in to your establishment (that's racist). Or if you don't like women in general, not to allow women in (that' sexist). I do believe that 'right of admission reserved' refers specifically to intoxicated, boisterous, peace breaking individuals or individuals who deliberaltey flaunt their ability to break the law, do drugs on your premises or who are destructive to the property on your premises. If it's not illegal then what's the problem?

      richard.hipkin - 2012-08-01 14:25

      And you sound like a dog molester to me...

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 14:46

      Philemon you should get out of the closet - it makes you ugly with all that pent up rage.

      crazyjourno - 2012-08-01 14:52

      LOL Slaan die spyker op die kop, Point Blank! Hy is BESLIS n diereLIEFhebber! lol

      anne.erasmus - 2012-08-01 15:29

      @philemon.ndlovu.5 - you obviously don't know many homossexual people - perhaps you should stop adding your two cents worth before you embarrass yourself even more. As for '... peace breaking individuals who flaunt their ability to ... break the law' - just look to our government for those individuals - perhaps they're all gay too?

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 15:29

      Philemon - the more you talk the more it sounds like you've dated a few guys in jail.

  • mikenortje - 2012-08-01 14:10

    To all the lawyers out there, what would happen if you tried to rent a Church Hall/ Mosque / Shoul for a Gay Wedding and they said No, would this same ruling apply?

      crazyjourno - 2012-08-01 14:16

      Yes, it would

      jpstrauss - 2012-08-01 14:24

      And yet, we are not allowed to have religious gatherings in certain "public" buildings.

      arm.witmens - 2012-08-01 14:32

      Probably, because freedom of religion is also embedded in the constitution, barring of course, that you cannot infringe on any person's human rights. Furthermore, if the building is rented out to people for any type of function or party, i believe the specific church wont have a leg to stand on. On the other hand, if the church are being sued or taken to court because they wont officiate the marriage, thats a nother kettle of fish entirely. If a building is used for worship, and not rented out, then the church CAN and probably will go to court and get a ruling in their favour. My opinion in any case, and no, im not a laywer.

  • Hermann - 2012-08-01 14:10

    When I was a youngster fifty years ago "gay" was a word expressing happiness. Today it is an expressions seeking publicity. My, my, how times have changed and the abnormal has become normal. Soon we will have "me and me" vying for the top publicity post.

      richard.hipkin - 2012-08-01 14:26

      Maybe it's time you left the planet. You clearly cannot keep up.

      Roulon du Toit - 2012-08-01 14:48

      And when you were a youngster concepts like the Internet was so space-age it didn't seem possible. Adapt or die. No one is forcing you to be gay or to accept homosexuality--you just can't do anything to violate their rights, just like they can't violate yours

  • Demetrius.Syriopoulos - 2012-08-01 14:24

    let us asume that the ruling is correct and it does not get challenged. the next law will state you your friends may be. the next one who drive German cars and who not. the next law that will be passed will be that you may not marry someone of the same race as you. the after that will have you jailed for life if you do. there may also be a law stating that all your neighbours MUST be invited to your family braai how about passing a law telling who may enter you house and who not. whatever i, or you, may feel about homosexual relationships, it is not the law that should dictate how we should feel or whom we can befriend. neigther should they force anyone to befriend another.

      mike.boylen - 2012-08-01 14:29

      The venue owners were not asked to become friends with the couple, just treat them like any other clients.

      lizzyvd - 2012-08-01 14:42

      The law is there to protect the right of the people in this country not to be discriminated against. Not to dictate to you what you drive, who you invite for a braai etc, which is still your own personal choice. Why should it be fair to not rent your venue out to gay people? Is their money not the same as everyone else's? The law does not dictate the venue to be friends with the lesbian couple nor to have feelings for them, but merely that they should be treated the same as the rest of the population.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 14:49

      That would be fine - if your restaurant wasn't open to the public. If it was a members only club it would be a different story. Public domain = cannot discriminate.

      lila.hearst - 2012-08-01 14:54

      spot on.

      ludogideon - 2012-08-01 15:45

      Honestly, you are being stupid. Really now?

  • maciek.dubla - 2012-08-01 14:36

    @charlie.vanbergen To start off with, pornography and homosexuality are two very different things so that example is completely baseless - even in regard to choice of association. Secondly, homosexuality is not a lifestyle, it's a sexual orientation, just like heterosexuality is. Did you wake up one morning and decide you're going to be with women and not men? Thirdly, assuming you're straight and I kicked you out of restaurant because I found you offensive based completely on the notion of your heterosexuality, I am almost certain you'd cry wolf and say I was discriminating against you even if I pointed to the Right of Admission Reserved sign. It's called being a bigot and if I could offer you advice, it's not a nice personality trait.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 14:50

      Well said.

      anne.erasmus - 2012-08-01 15:32

      Hear, hear!

  • - 2012-08-01 15:08

    I have a clear sign stating “Right of Admission Reserved”. So I can kick or refuse anybody I do not want in my restaurant or business. Secondly I will not allow same sex marriages to be celebrated in my restaurant or venue

      crazyjourno - 2012-08-01 15:12

      Why not?

      crazyjourno - 2012-08-01 15:16

      Nee, nee. Jy is n privaat speurder of LIEG jy op FB?

      anne.erasmus - 2012-08-01 15:33

      And there goes the theory that participation on forums and in social media can improve your business!

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 15:44

      Eddie - business must be booming considering all the religious bigots on this forum hey. By the way, that mustache looks pretty much like the singer from Queen, are you hiding something?

      Pulverturm - 2012-08-01 17:25

      What is the name of your Restaurant? I want to make sure I never eat there!

  • emile.marais - 2012-08-01 15:18

    Time and again there seems to be a religious or moral argument by some so called 'normal' people against the LGBT community. What I don't really understand is why some heterosexual people assume gay people are immoral in their choice of lifestyle. If you are not gay, who are you to judge who someone else loves? What two (or more) consensual adults do in their bedroom (preferably) is frankly no one else's business. It's as some straight people assume there is no perversion within straight relationships and sexual intercourse. Extra marital affairs, divorce, domestic abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, rape, promiscuity and so on is not limited to the LGBT community and seems quite prevalent within the straight community. Frankly, if I was denied entry to an establishment due to my sexuality, I'd rather take my custom somewhere else such as a gay friendly establishment and support a LGBT owned business and call it a day.

  • veritas.odium.paret - 2012-08-01 15:25

    Just a question: what if most of the venue's regular clientele is conservative and, being a business, the management only felt it not in their best interests to cause a possible disquiet or even an outright boycott? Or does that kind of thing no longer matter?

      mike.boylen - 2012-08-01 15:33

      As a gay man, if the venue owner or manager explained that position to me I would accept it. I wouldn't necessarily be happy about it, but I would respect their position.

      ludogideon - 2012-08-01 15:42

      I prefer people who come out straight and say that they feel this way about something and not be silent and lie. These people who own this place are Christian, let us start there. They are Christians and if their christianinty is what I also subscribe into, it does not allow discrimination.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 15:47

      They wanted to hire the venue for a wedding - which is usually invite only - so their "regular" bigoted customers would see a sign saying "closed for private function" and their delicate psyche not harmed by the horrors of hordes of lesbians celebrating a day of love.

  • ludogideon - 2012-08-01 15:32

    I know this Sha-Mani Lodge, I have been here. A friend of mine got married here earlier this year. The strange part is that the owners are devoted Christians. It is amazing what you find when you go deep in a person. Unbelievable!

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 15:53

      Thanks - I'll personally be sure to boycott them.

      janalbert.vandenberg - 2012-08-01 16:02

      What exactly is unbelievable? It seems they acted in accordance with their faith as they interpret it. Nothing unbelievable as far as I can determine.

      fpbotha - 2012-10-06 14:48

      Strange - a couple of years back, pregnancy out of wed-lock was seen to be a social evil and people acted according to their faith. Which might explaim why the messiah of this particular faith your admiring wound up being born in s stable...

  • tricia.sutherland1 - 2012-08-01 15:42

    while we all have to adhere to the laws against discrimination, some people are forced to go against what they believe. i am an open minded person who respects the belief systems and lifestyles of others. and while i embrace my gay friends i do so also to the people in my life who don't accept gay people and have strict religious beliefs. it is wrong to force people to do what is against their beliefs even in business.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-01 15:57

      I have religious friends and gay friends too - but my religious friends don't discriminate against them, or refuse to socialise with them. If they did, I wouldn't invite any of them for dinner, because I'm not buddies with close minded bigots. As a business (not a church) they are bound by the laws of the country, and those laws clearly state that they are not allowed to discriminate against gender or sexual orientation. They are in a public domain, offering a service to the public. Unless it can be proven that gay people will ruin their business, they don't have a leg to stand on in a court of law.

  • Gcwabe.KaMavovo - 2012-08-01 15:46

    Gay people are amongst us and they will never go away. Let's accept this and move on. We need tolerance in this country, which is something I've added to my personality in the past few years. Why should we as heterosexuals be threatened by them?

  • janalbert.vandenberg - 2012-08-01 16:00

    I'm gay, I'm pro civil union (as you'd probably expect) but I also think: if they don't want you to celebrate your union with them, why on *earth* would you give them the satisfaction of knowing they got you upset??? If they don't want you to celebrate with them, tell them they can shove it, and go somewhere else! This absolutely beautiful country of ours have some wonderful venues; why get so hang-up on Sha-Mani? If they don't want your business, that is their right by my account. If it's not entirely constitutional, so what, leave 'em be! Some people treat others they want to be treated, some don't; and nothing you do will really ever change that. Now, being *forced* to make this payment, gays have achieved nothing more than increasing the hatred already directed towards them. Instead to trying to minimize polarisation, this has just added to it. How unfortunate!

      crazyjourno - 2012-08-01 16:37

      Yep! Screw Shait-Mani and the NG tannies...

      chantell.lombard1 - 2012-08-01 20:44

      Isn't it time to stop the silence and face the abuse and discriminatory behaviour? Isn't that what gay pride is all about?

  • peterjohnjnb - 2012-08-07 16:24

    Discrimination is discrimination fair enough but for heavens sake...why spend your money there? vote with your feet and simply take your business elsewhere. Your friends would boycott the venue and with a stiff publicity campaign, other people would to.

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