BLOEM ARTS ACADEMY GUILTY OF VIOLATING GAY & LESBIAN RIGHTS

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The South African Human Rights Commission has concluded that the Christian-based Creare Training Centre violated the rights of gays and lesbians by barring them from attending the institution.

In January, it came to light that the arts and drama academy’s 2013 prospectus stated that it would not allow gay students to enrol unless they let themselves be “cured”.

Under “Practical Rules for Fulltime Students,” in a section titled “Relational Etiquette,” the prospectus stated that the institution believes in the principle of sexual orientation being founded “on that of heterosexuality”.

It also asserted that the centre will “offer ministry to help people that want to change their sexual orientation”.

The Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Andries Nel, laid a complaint against the centre with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), which launched an investigation into the matter.

In their response, the academy argued that it is a voluntary association and that its students enrol by choice.

On Monday, the SAHRC confirmed that its investigation had found that the Creare Training Centre prospectus “constitutes a violation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBTIs) right to equality, dignity, religion, freedom of association, freedom and security of the person and education”.

It also said that prospectus could have the “potential effect of perpetuating decimation against LGBTI people”. It further rejected “the exclusionary provision in the relationship etiquette and the justification offered by Creare Training Centre”.

Most damning of all, the commission found that centre’s violation of the rights of LGBTI people “has the potential of resulting in psychological and physical harm to members of LGTBI community”.

The commission recommended that the Creare Training Centre review and amend its constitution and prospectus within three months to demonstrate “a reasonable accommodation for diversity” and affirm “that difference should not be the basis of exclusion”.

It also 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 the centre in a series of ‘sensitisation workshops’, and report in writing to the commission within six months on progress achieved.

Isaac Mangena, Head of Communications at the SAHRC, told Mambaonline that should the centre refuse to follow its recommendations or fail to lodge an appeal against its findings, “we have the option to take the matter higher, including taking it to the equality court”.

Mangena said that the centre had thus far cooperated with the SAHRC and that it had not indicated that it would appeal the findings.

Mambaonline attempted to contact the Creare Training Centre to ascertain if it would implement the commissions’ findings but had not received a response by the time of publishing.

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