A South African Christian arts academy in Bloemfontein has been found guilty of human rights violation against LGBT people, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) stated.
SAHRC found yesterday (8 April) that the Creare Training Centre’s ‘calls for discipline or baring gays lesbians from attending classes, violates the rights to equality, dignity, religion, freedom of association, freedom and security of the person and education as enshrined in the [South African] constitution’.
GSN previously reported that the justice ministry had asked the commission to investigate claims of unfair discrimination at the Creare Training Centre in Bloemfontein in January following complaints about its policies.
Deputy Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Andries Nel told SAHRC that the centre had a prospectus ‘Relationship Etiquette’, which opposed LGBT people, calling for discipline or barring gay and lesbian students from attending class.
SAHRC said that it ‘rejects the exclusionary provision in the relationship etiquette and the justification offered by Creare Training Centre’.
Gay Star News reported in January that the Christian Arts Academy was sharply criticized for advertising it could ‘cure’ gay students and ‘turn them’ straight.
The centre's prospectus claimed they could ‘convert’ gay students into heterosexuals through ‘rehabilitation’.
SAHRC stated that this provision is not ‘violates rights’ but ‘has the potential of resulting in psychological and physical harm to members of LGTBI community’.
Creare founder Cornelius van Heyningen previously denied the institution was discriminatory.
He said: ‘We are catering for those who say “I want to change as a homosexual”. That's not saying no homosexuals are allowed’.
He compared the academy's stance on homosexuality to a drug rehabilitation programme.
The commission recommended that the prospectus be reviewed and amended within three months and show a reasonable accommodation for diversity and affirmation that to end exclusionary practices.
SAHRC further recommended that the ‘Institute for Social justice and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State, in collaboration with the South African Council of Churches, engage Creare Training Centre in a series of Sensitisation Workshops, and report in writing to the Commission on the progress achieved thereby no later than six month from the date of this finding’.
Section 9 of the South African constitution forbids discrimination on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation, and applies to the government and to private parties.