Article source: FOR SA

* The cases and issues in which FOR SA is / has been involved, are marked with a star (*).

POLICIES & BILLS

Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill*
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has advised that the Minister was briefed and made several inputs that necessitated further amendments to the Bill. There will be a further meeting with the Minister again to discuss the latest amendments to the Bill. A decision on whether the Bill will be published for comment will be taken at a later stage. (From a religious freedom point of view, FOR SA raised concerns regarding the proposal that all lease agreements between schools and third parties for the hiring of the school’s property / facilities – e.g. by a church, for use of the school hall on a Sunday morning – in future be approved by the provincial government rather than by the SGB). 

Children’s Amendment Bill*
The Secretary of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Social Development has advised that the Bill has not yet been referred to the Committee. The intial Bill drafted by the Department of Social Development (DSD) aimed to make any form of physical discipline by a parent – no matter how light or well-intentioned – illegal and potentially subject to criminal prosecution for assaulting a child, to which there will be no defence in law. Following submissions by FOR SA and others, the Department removed the clauses proposing the criminalisation of physical correction in the home. It is this Bill that will be presented before Parliament.

Civil Union Amendment Bill*
This Bill was adopted by the National Assembly last year, but lapsed with the election of the new Parliament. In terms of the Bill, State-employed marriage officers will no longer have the right, for reasons of conscience or belief, to “opt out” of solemnising same-sex marriages. The National Assembly now has to adopt a resolution “reviving” the Bill to allow the new Parliament to deal with it. Only after this can the Bill be sent to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) (the second house of Parliament) that has to pass the Bill before it can be sent to the President to be signed into law.

Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE)*
FOR SA has been actively engaged in discussions with the Department of Education (DBE) regarding the proposed implementation of CSE in our schools. Most recently, FOR SA wrote to the DBE to demand that full disclosure be given to parents at the beginning of every year, at every grade level, of the material / content to which their children will be exposed; that parents have the right to “opt out” of a particular lesson plan, should they not want their children to be exposed thereto;  and that the possibility of an alternative curriculum be considered. We are yet to receive a formal reply from the Department.

CSE

CRL Rights Commission’s proposed regulation of religion*
The President has now appointed thirteen persons who will serve as Commissioners of the CRL Rights Commission (“the CRL”) for the next five years. During a recent media interview,  the new CRL Chair made it clear that the CRL remains intent on pushing for compulsory licencing of all religious practitioners. In the meanwhile, the Steering Committee of the Religious Leaders Summit is making arrangements for a follow-up Summit to take place in October 2019.  FOR SA has generated these alternative proposals to address the problems identified by the CRL in their report.

Cybercrimes Bill*
This Bill was adopted by the National Assembly last year, but lapsed with the election of the new Parliament. The National Assembly now has to adopt a resolution “reviving” the Bill to allow the new Parliament to deal with it. Only after this can the Bill be sent to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) (the second house of Parliament) that has to pass the Bill, before it can be sent to the President to be signed into law. (From a religious freedom point of view, FOR SA made comments on the Bill which contains broad provisions on “malicious communications” that could potentially be used to curb freedom of (religious) expression.)

Learner Pregnancy Policy*
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has advised that due to some internal processes the revised draft Policy on Learner Pregnancy (which inclues Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) as a key component) was still to be finalised and thereafter submitted to Cabinet for final ratification. From a religious freedom point of view, FOR SA made submissions on the inclusion of CSE which has proven itself worldwide to be a highly explicit programmes aimed at sexualising children rather than teaching them about sex.

National Health Amendment Bill (“End of Life Bill”)*
We have been advised by COPE that this Bill (originally introduced as a Private Member’s Bill by Deidre Carter MP), which provides for “living wills” refusing any future potentially life-sustaining medical treatment or procedure, has not been tabled again for discussion in Parliament or the relevant committee. It is still where it was at end of last year, namely at the end of the submission period, but no other progress has happened. (From a religious freedom point of view, FOR SA proposed that the Bill should be amended to protect doctors who have a conscientious objection to giving effect to a “living will”).

National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Amendment Bill*
The President has now signed this Bill, which has bearing primarily on misrepresentation (by individuals, and institutions including therefore Bible schools) of academic qualifications.

Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill*
The Bill lapsed with the election of the new Parliament and the new National Assembly now has to adopt a resolution “reviving” the Bill to allow the new Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development to continue work on the Bill. The Secretary of the Committee has advised that to date, no such resolution has beenpassed and the Committee has not yet resumed work on the Bill. Parliament is expected to deal with this Bill in the 2nd term of 2019 however.

Proposed amalgamation of Chapter 9 institutions
FOR SA has been advised that the final report containing the recommendations in this regard, is as yet not in the public domain.  The Speaker will decide on how best to take the matters forward.  For now, it seems that amalgamation will not be considered.

Proposed policy on marriage in SA
The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is in the initial stages of developing a new policy on marriage in South Africa. This policy will set the platform for the possible adoption of a single “Marriage Act”, governing all marriages entered into in South Africa. (From a religious freedom point of view, FOR SA has raised with the Department the increasing pressure experienced by religious marriage officers – many of whom believe that, according to Scripture, marriage is the permanent union of one man and one woman – to solemnise same-sex marriages. Many of them have already expressed the sentiment that, should they be forced by law to do so, they would rather hand in their marriage licence than to act against their religious convictions and beliefs.)

South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC):  Issue Paper 32: The Right to Know One’s Biological Origins
This Paper asks the question whether SA law should be amended so as to provide for compulsory disclosure of information to a child regarding his/her conception. The SALRC has advised that they hope to resume research and consultations in this year still, with a view to drafting a discussion paper that can be considered and approved for publication by the Commission which may only be sometime in 2020 at the earliest. (From a religious freedom point of view, FOR SA raised concerns regarding the mandatory disclosure of information which could violate the best interest of the child principle).

South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC):  Issue Paper 35: Single Marriage Statute
In South Africa currently, there is no single law governing the solemnisation and registration of marriages. Instead, there are various pieces of legislation governing different civil marriages, civil unions, customary marriages, etc. The SALRC is thus recommending a single marriage law governing all types of marriages. The deadline for submissions on the SALRC’s Issue Paper, recommending that all types of marriages be regulated by a single law, has been extended to 31 August. The issue paper is available at www.justice.gov.za

LEGAL CASES

FOR SA vs Minister of Justice & Others (Constitutional Court)*
On 29 November 2018, the Constitutional Court heard FOR SA’s application for leave to appeal against the judgment by the Johannesburg High Court in October 2017, declaring all forms of physical discipline of children – regardless of how light or well-intentioned – to be illegal. FOR SA is still awaiting judgment from the Court.

SAHRC vs Jon Qwelane (SCA)
On Monday, 19 August 2019, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein heard the appeal by Jon Qwelane against the judgment of the Johannesburg High Court (sitting as an Equality Court), which effectively found him guilty of “hate speech” against homosexuals. Judgment has been reserved.

In re Dr Jacques de Vos (HPCSA)
On 27 and 28 August 2019, former military hospital doctor, Dr Jacques de Vos, appeared before the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for advising that abortion is the killing of an unborn human being. The hearing has been postponed to 3 and 4 October 2019.

R.E. Wilson vs African Enterprise & Theuns Pauw (Grahamstown Equality Court)*
The unfair discrimination case against African Enterprise (AE) and their director Theuns Pauw, has been favourably resolved. The case arises out of a sermon delivered by Pauw at St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown and wherein he touched on issues of divorce and human sexuality. 

Queers without Borders and others vs Chris van Wyk (SAHRC)*
A complaint of unfair discrimination and hate speech has been laid against Chris van Wyk (a pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church) following his statement that “if all sexual orientations are a gift of God, as argued by Rev Nelis Janse van Rensburg, to be consistent in his argument he would have to include all sexual orientations and that would include something like paedophilia.” Pastor van Wyk has submitted his reply to the SAHRC.

Olivier v Afrikaanse Protestantse Kerk (Pretoria High Court)
A former pastor of the APK has instituted proceedings against the church in the Pretoria High Court (Equality Court), after he was found guilty by the church on charges of misconduct and dismissed.  The pastor alleges, amongst other things, that he was unfairly discriminated against by the church on grounds of sexual orientation when they terminated his services, and also that the church made itself guilty of an unfair labour practice by “continuously discriminating against gay ministers, which is systemic in nature”.

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Date published: 06/09/2019

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