The SA Human Rights Commission is accused of settling a case against homophobic Christian “relationship expert” Gretha Wiid without the consent of all complainants.
Last year, the SAHRC received approximately 77 complaints regarding the content of Wiid’s book, Lyfslim vir Seuns, in which she advised teenagers on how to avoid becoming homosexual.
The complainants said that the book constitutes unfair discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and that it amounts to hate speech.
There were also complaints about a series of talks and workshops that Wiid gave between 1996 and 2011 at schools across Gauteng on the subject of sexual development and sex education. It was claimed that these violated the equality and dignity of LGBTQ people, and the constitutional rights and best interests of the children at the workshops.
After conducting an investigation, the SAHRC announced on Tuesday that it and Wiid had agreed “that it is in the interests of the parties, and society at large, that the matter be resolved as expeditiously and amicably as possible.”
This, explained the commission, meant that the complaints against Wiid had been resolved “through a process of conciliation and all parties have agreed to enter into a settlement agreement.” The agreement is set to signed today (18 July). It is not clear what the agreement entails.
The statement, however, has not been well received by at least one of the alleged complainants against Wiid, who claims that she was not consulted nor made aware of the intention to settle the matter. Questions were also asked as to why the announcement was made the day before the signing of the agreement.
In a letter to the SAHRC on behalf of the aggrieved complainant, Coenie Kukkuk of Coenraad Kukkuk Attorneys, demanded that the commission delay the signing.
“Our client was not part of any conciliation or settlement discussions, nor does she know of any other complainant who has,” said Kukkuk in the letter. “Our client has been in contact with several other complainants, and from the objections lodged on the Facebook page, there is not one person there who allege that they were, as complainant, consulted in this matter, nor are they aware that any LGBT organisation in South Africa, or anyone purporting to represent the LGBT community or the complainants were consulted in this matter.”
Kukkuk said that “our client insists that the signing of the so-called settlement agreement be postponed until such a time that the complainants in the case, or at least our client herself, have been consulted on the matter, in that the terms of the agreement are made known to the complainants, alternatively to our client at least and that she and/or the complainants are given an opportunity to study the so-called settlement agreement, and be given an opportunity to respond thereto, either to object or to approve the terms thereof.”
Mambaonline spoke to SAHRC Gauteng Provincial Manager, Buang Jones, who confirmed receipt of Kukkuk’s letter. He said, however, that the commission had no record of a complaint by Kukkuk’s client and that the signing of the agreement would go ahead. He also insisted that there had been consultations with the known complainants ahead of the settlement.
In a response to Kukkuk’s letter, the SAHRC wrote that while “it is within the discretion of the Commission to determine how best a complaint can be resolved”, it had sent a copy of the draft settlement agreement for comment to the complainants. Mambaonline can confirm that at least some of the complainants received this email, but it appears that not all did.
In her book, Wiid wrote that boys become gay due to unloving or abusive fathers, and that they can revert to heterosexuality if they “speak to someone about these things in time – before it is too late”. In another book targeting girls, she stated that being gay is “sad”.
Wiid, who has a gay brother, apologised for having “wronged” anyone with her “word choices or the way that I wrote…” but she has not fully retracted her views nor agreed to recall the books.
In addition to her books, Wiid offers “camps” for young people in which she advises them on “relationships, choices and friends” and how to be “men and women” according to Christian values. She also hosts ‘Worthy Women’ events that assert the primacy of the man in marriage.
Update: Kukkuk has provided Mambaonline with evidence that his client filed a complaint and that the SAHRC acknowledged the complaint and promised to keep her updated on the matter.