December 6, 2023

A religious lobby group in South Africa has backed owners of a popular wedding venue after they refused to host the marriage celebration of a same-sex couple.

Michael Swain from Freedom of Religion South Africa, who represents Beloftebos Wedding Venue in the West Cape province, argued the owners had a religious right to turn away the couple.

Megan Watling and Sasha-Lee Heekes said their rights had been violated and that they felt disappointed and heartbroken by the decision.

“Sexual orientation isn’t a choice, my only choice is living authentically and loving my soulmate,” Ms Heekes is quoted as saying by EWN news site.

The couple had inquired about holding a celebration in April at the venue but got a response last week referring them to Beloftebos’ website, which outlines the owners’ beliefs on same-sex relationships, EWN reports.

The owners faced a backlash in 2017 for refusing to host a same-sex wedding for an American couple.

Supporters of Ms Waiting and Ms Heekes on social media have started an online petition to get South Africa’s Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to intervene.

Same-sex relations are legal in South Africa and protected in the constitution.

The country was the first in Africa to protect people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

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