Made to feel inhuman | Gay couple dumped by Springs wedding venue

Wayne and Kobus

A Gauteng wedding venue is the latest to discriminate against gays and lesbians after it unceremoniously turned away a same-sex couple.

Last week, Wayne Van Der Schyff (31) and Kobus Smal (36) contacted Tameletjie, situated on a Farm in Endicott, Springs, about hosting their wedding in April.

The couple of three and a half years had chosen the venue for their special day after previously attending two heterosexual weddings at Tameletjie and falling in love with it.

Van Der Schyff was delighted when owner Antonett Cronje confirmed that the venue was available on the required date. “I told her how many guests we’ve got and she said she can’t wait to meet us.”

Van Der Schyff added: “I didn’t tell her about being a gay couple because I thought, ‘You know what, it shouldn’t matter.'”

It was only when he was on his way to Tameletjie to inspect the facilities on Wednesday that things turned sour.

Van Der Schyff received an unsettling WhatsApp message from Cronje. “Will it be a gay wedding?” she asked. “If so, then we cannot help you.” Cronje added: “It is against our principles.”

Van Der Schyff believes that Cronje may have only realised that his partner is a man when she saw his WhatsApp profile picture, which is of both men.

“I was really, really upset,” he told Mambaonline, “It feels like we are not part of humanity. It actually makes you feel inhuman”

Van Der Schyff said that while he knows that there are people who are racist and homophobic, they should not bring their bigotry into their business practices.

“It’s the same as them telling a white and a black person that they can’t get married there because it’s against their belief that you can’t mix races,” he said.

“Their website states that they can do any function and that they do the best for all their clients. Except for gays,” he pointed out.

Mambaonline called Cronje for comment. She, however, appeared to disconnect the call after we explained the reason for contacting her. She also did not answer further calls or our subsequent text and WhatsApp messages.

The couple are now looking for a new venue that meets their requirements and budget, but they don’t intend to stay silent about Tameletjie. Van Der Schyff is seeking legal advice and plans to lodge complaints with the SA Human Rights Commission and the Equality Court.

“I don’t want to leave this here. I’m sure there have been other couples before us who experienced the same thing and they kept quiet about it,” he said.

“We have friends [a straight couple] who were doing their wedding in September at this venue, and they are pulling out. They said that if we’re not welcome, they don’t want to have their wedding there.”

Numerous cases of discrimination against same-sex couples within the wedding industry have made headlines since same-sex marriage was legalised in South Africa in 2006.

Most recently, in November last year, two Cape Town men were humiliated after a leading wedding photographer cancelled their booking when he realised that they are a gay couple.

In August, Beloftebos, in the Western Cape village of Stanford, made headlines after it refused to allow a same-sex couple to marry at the venue.

Constitutional law expert Pierre De Vos has asserted that business owners cannot use their religious beliefs to deny LGBTIQ people service. It is not only unconstitutional to do so but it also violates The Equality Act, which prohibits the denial of services on the basis of sexual orientation.

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