Court says Dutch Reformed Church's gay pastors can have same-sex unions
A Pretoria high court judgment on Friday, which overturned the Dutch Reformed Church's decision not to recognise same-sex unions within the church, is a step forward for LGBTQI inclusion across the board, especially in the church.
This is the view of Laurie Gaum, one of the people who challenged the church’s decision to rescind its initial decision allowing homosexual pastors to be in relationships.
In 2015 the church ruled that it would allow pastors to marry homosexuals in the church and the church's gay and lesbian pastors to be in sexual relationships.
However, following an extraordinary synod meeting‚ that original order was overturned less than a year later.
Gaum, together with his father, Frits Gaum, Judith Kotze and Michelle Boonzaaier last year challenged the church's decision to rescind its 2015 decision.
On Friday, the court set aside the synod's decision.
Gaum welcomed the court's ruling and said the church's decision had been found to exclude people on the ground of sexual orientation.
"The judgment affirms the dignity of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation," Gaum said.
He said the judgment had implications for other institutions not to use religion to exclude people based on sexual orientation.
Gaum said the judgment meant one could be a minister without being celibate.
He said it would be disappointing if the church were to appeal this judgment, but said it was the church's prerogative to appeal.
When the matter was argued last year, counsel for Gaum and others said the church could not discriminate based on sexual orientation.