The Moreleta Park Dutch Reformed Church in Pretoria has chosen not to appeal the court ruling against it for firing a gay music teacher and will issue an apology to him, thereby bringing the controversial case to a close.
In what was seen as a landmark ruling, the Pretoria High Court had found the church guilty of discriminating against Johan Strydom because of his sexuality and ordered it to pay damages to him and to issue an unconditional apology.
The church council met on Tuesday with its legal team and decided not to appeal the judgment. It will abide by the ruling and pay Strydom almost R87,000 in damages and will apologise to him as ordered by the court.
Talk Radio 702 reported on Wednesday that a letter of apology had already been sent to Strydom, although its contents are not yet known.
Speaking on the radio station, Dominie Dirkie van der Spuy said that the council’s decision did not mean that it had changed its stance that homosexuality was sinful.
Strydom, who now lives in Jeffreys Bay, was fired from the church’s arts academy in July 2005 after an anonymous caller told the church that he was in a gay relationship.
He sued the church for damages related to loss of income and dignity in terms of the Promotion of Equity and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.