PRESS STATEMENT – 11 March 2019

In the recent judgement by a full bench,led by Judge Joseph Raulinga, The High Court of Pretoria (Gauteng Division, Pretoria) in the case of the applicants, Laurie Gaum, Michelle Boonzaaier, Judith Kotzé, Fritz Gaum versus respondents that include the leadership of the Dutch Reformed Church (Nelis Janse van Rensburg, Dewyk Ungerer, Gustav Claassen, Matthys Johannes Nicolaas van der Merwe, General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church, Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) a full bench of overturned the decision made by the DRC at an extraordinary synod in 2016.

In the judgement, the decision on same-sex marriage made by the extraordinary synod of the DRC in 2016 was overturned in favour of a more inclusive decision made in 2015, that announced that the DRCs various congregations could decide for themselves if they wanted to bless same-sex unions and ordain LGBTI ministers without the expectation of celibacy. At Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM), we celebrate this landmark judgement as a step closer to our vision of faith communities that recognise and celebrate LGBTI people on the African continent. This judgement indicates that mainline churches can no longer hide behind their own flawed legal policies and theological arguments that exclude LGBTI people and other marginalised groups from faith communities.

IAM continues our support of and commitment to dialogue in faith communities. Over the past 24 years we have developed strategies and interventions that support churches that wish to be more open and inclusive spaces that engage in dialogue processes with LGBTI people and other issues of diversity.

This positive judgement becomes a driving force for our work towards more inclusive spaces. As next step, we would invite inclusive faith communities into is a process towards restorative justice for LGBTI people. Even though this landmark judgement is positive for many faith communities, there is no denying that for many years LGBTI people and other marginalised individuals have experienced the pain of exclusion that have left indelible marks on their bodies and their relationships. In order to restore people to themselves, to faith communities and to their commitment to a loving, inclusive and forgiving God, we need dialogue processes that include the collaborative search for restorative justice of the bodies of those that have known only exclusion. We commit ourselves to continue this work of opening up transformative dialogue spaces that leads to conversations that make meaning possible and restore relationships.