Mon, 30 Nov 2020

The Alliance Defending the Autonomy of Churches in South Africa (ADACSA) has had its application for clarity on the 2016 same-sex relationships decision by the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria rejected on Friday.

ADACSA asked the court to clarify whether its judgment in , which declared the decision of the church on same-sex relationships to be unlawful and invalid, was made only on procedural grounds or also on constitutional grounds.

Earlier this year, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria found that the Dutch Reformed Church's policy against solemnising same-sex marriages, diminished the integrity of gay congregants.

Reverend Laurie Gaum, his father Dr Frits Gaum and eight other members of the Dutch Reformed Church, launched the High Court application to have the 2016 decision set aside and declared unconstitutional.

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In 2015, the church had decided to allow individual church councils to recognise same-sex marriages and also scrapped a rule that gay ministers of the church had to be celibate. A year later in 2016, the church adopted a new policy, scrapping the 2015 one.

The organisation brought the application in March 2019 and, on Friday the court opted not to clarify, saying the organisation had no legal standing to bring such an application. The application was opposed by Gaum and the original applicants before the High Court.

"Following lengthy argument and an adjournment of approximately 45 minutes, the court dismissed ADACSA's application on the basis that it - being a "Friend of the Court" in the original proceedings, rather than a party - did not have a right to bring the application," read a statement by Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA), an organisation within ADACSA.

Michael Swain, FOR SA executive director, "one of the judges remarked that there was 'no ambiguity', and one could read between the lines therefore that the court's position was that its judgment was also based on constitutional grounds".

Swain said the organisation have not abandoned the possibility of appealing the ruling by the court although the group did not immediately argue for leave to appeal.

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