There is growing support for a petition, signed by over 500 prominent South African Christians, urging the synod of the Dutch Reformed Church to end its discriminatory stance against the gay and lesbian community

Cape Town gay services organisation Triangle Project has announced its support for the letter, stating that, “We contend that the Dutch Reformed Church displays clear evidence of institutionalised prejudice and discrimination against gay and lesbian people, thereby perpetuating social injustice against an already marginalised sector of society.”

The petition is signed by a wide range of Christians, including artists, academics, politicians and theologians and states that, “We request of you to set in motion a structured process of reconciliation between heterosexual and gay members of the church.”

It goes on to ask the church to allow openly gay clerics on the same basis as heterosexual clerics, namely without the condition of celibacy.

It further reads: “We want to state with conviction that most people are born heterosexual and some are born gay. Just as a heterosexual orientation is not sin, a homosexual orientation is not sin either. And just as a moral heterosexual lifestyle is not sin, so too a moral homosexual lifestyle is not a sin.”

Notable signatories include singer Steve Hofmeyr, Deputy Justice Minister Johnny de Lange, Allan Boesak and Stellenbosch University Chancellor Elise Botha.

The petition was create with the aim of influencing the planned discussions on homosexuality at the church’s annual general synod meeting which is set to take place in Boksburg next week.

“We call on the Dutch Reformed Church to serve as a beacon of acceptance and tolerance of diversity in South Africa,” said Glenn de Swardt, Triangle Project’s Manager of Counselling Services and Research.

A study conducted by Triangle Project, in partnership with UNISA’s Centre for Applied Psychology, showed that 36% of gay and lesbian Christians in the Western Cape had experienced discrimination within their church, with 8% of respondents being asked to leave their church.

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