by Langa Mohlala
“This is far bigger than feeling hurt about a wedding venue. It is a question of human rights and equality before the law, regardless of sexual orientation.”
“We cannot stand idly by as personal beliefs are used to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation and gender.”
“Our intention is to play our part in breaking the silence on the continued, unquestioned and ungoverned use of personal beliefs as a means to unfairly discriminate against […] the LGBTQIA+ community.”
- These are a few quotes from the press statement that Megs and Sash made after their story made waves in the news and on social media.
According to the information provided on their #SameLove website, Megs and Sash have been together since 2013 and announced their engagement on Facebook. They were said to have immediately started wedding planning and were researching and sending enquiries to prospective wedding venues about wedding package costs. One such enquiry was sent to Beloftebos, a wedding venue in Stanford, Cape Town. Beloftebos allegedly refused to send them information and “stated [that] they would not host our wedding on the basis of our sexual orientation and gender due to their personal and religious beliefs.”
This is not the first time that Beloftebos has come under fire for turning away an LGBT+ couple looking to get married. In 2017, the venue also refused an American same-sex couple from celebrating their wedding there. The owners of Beloftebos have since released media statements pertaining to the separate cases.
With regards to the 2017 case, they said, “While the venue is available to people of all race[s], our Biblical conviction is that marriage is reserved for a long-time commitment between one man and one woman. […] It is our conscience before God which prohibits us from hosting any other kind of “marriage” on our property – not a fear or hatred of homosexual people (“homophobia”) as we have been unfairly accused of.”
This year, their statement from before was reiterated, with the owners stating, “all people, whatever their sexual orientation, are always welcome and will be served at our venue. We draw no distinction between people as far as serving them, catering for them or allowing them to use ‘our’ facilities are concerned. […] However, when we are approached to assist in something which we sincerely believe is not in line with Jesus’s teaching[s] we cannot, for the reasons already set out, in good conscience comply. Our decisions have absolutely nothing to do with a person’s race, gender, sexual choices, economic standing or any other personal factor, but are purely based upon our desire to do what is right before God in accordance with our beliefs.”
After their story received its initial media coverage, Megs and Sash were approached by a legal and PR consultant who encouraged them to take legal action against Beloftebos. Their decision was further cemented after they’d heard about the 2017 case that was similar to theirs. They created their #samelove campaign to spread awareness and raise funds for their case.
“Ultimately, we want to work towards creating an equal society for all. This is not a question for beliefs; it is a question of human rights and equality before the law. […] Prejudice is prejudice, no matter the scale,” they said.
Megs and Sash also said that Same Love’s purpose is to not only validate and recognize the love between same-sex couples, but “to also highlight that love is love, and all humans deserve to love and be loved without discrimination, fear or prejudice.”
On 4 September, they announced that they were able to file the papers for their case. Prior to the filing of their case, they were advised by many legal bodies that their case was very strong. However, only time will tell if justice will prevail and the legal system will be fair towards these women who were so unfairly treated.