Constitutional Court sends sacked gay minister packing

24 November 2015 - 14:17 By Ernest Mabuza


Ecclesia de Lange‚ the Methodist church minister who was suspended and later discontinued as minister for her plan to marry her same-sex partner‚ failed in her appeal to the Constitutional Court to set aside her discontinuation. De Lange announced before her congregation in 2009 that she intended to marry her live-in‚ same-sex partner. After this announcement‚ the church informed her that her announcement had breached the church policy which only recognised heterosexual marriages.She was then suspended and discontinued as minister in 2010. De Lange then referred the matter to arbitration in terms of the church's laws but the parties were unable to agree on the terms of the arbitration.In June 2011‚ the convener of the arbitration panel signed an arbitration agreement on behalf of De Lange‚ fleshing out the terms and process of the arbitration. But De Lange went to the high court in Cape Town to set aside the arbitration agreement as she feared there would be bias.The high court and later the Supreme Court of Appeal said De Lange had not shown good cause to set aside the arbitration agreement.In a unanimous judgment on Tuesday‚ Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said it was not in the interests of justice to hear De Lange's appeal because there were no reasonable prospects of success.He said the arbitration panel would be the appropriate forum to examine the church’s application of its rule against same-sex marriages for ministers.Moseneke said De Lange had not raised her claim of unfair discrimination in the high court and she was not free to raise it for the first time on appeal.“If the court were to deal with the discrimination claim‚ it would do so as a court of first and last instance‚” Moseneke said. – TMG Digital/TMG Courts and Law

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