Ecclesia de Lange: “Opportunity to protect rights of LGBTI people lost”


Ecclesia de Lange

Ecclesia de Lange, the lesbian minister whose discrimination case against the Methodist Church of South Africa (MCSA) was rejected by the Constitutional Court, has spoken out about her disappointment.

De Lange was fired by the church in January 2010 after she announced to her Western Cape congregation that she would be marrying her same-sex partner (the couple has since divorced and De Lange has remarried).

While the dismissal of her appeal by the Constitutional Court on Tuesday was largely based on technicalities, it was also a sign of the courts’ continued reticence in issuing a definitive ruling on if religious beliefs can be used to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. (Read details of the decision here).

Below is the full statement issued by de Lange on Friday about the outcome of the case:

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountain top of our desires.” These are the words of Nelson Mandela.

I respectfully accept the ruling of the Constitutional Court but have to admit that I am deeply disappointed. I feel my right as an individual, although entrenched in the Constitution, has been denied; the judgement gives the Church permission to further discriminate and victimise the LGBTI community; a unique opportunity has been lost to protect the rights of LGBTI people.

Over the past six years I’ve experienced and witnessed the harsh persecution of the Church on LGBTI people. My case has shone a light on the Church’s ongoing discrimination against LGBTI people. The judgment is not the end but the start of a new phase with people and processes.

If the MCSA feels that ConCourt ruling is a victory for them – in my view it is a hollow one as it would disregard the pain and suffering of LGBTI people, their parents, friends and family in their communities.

I call on the thousands of gay and lesbian members and ministers, their parents, family and friends in the MCSA to speak out against this injustice – your silence on this matter is a sign of approval of the injustices perpetrated against the LGBTI community.

I also call on all to allow the Spirit of God to work within each of us, to break down the barriers of prejudice and phobias so that a new creation can come forth; so that the world may know us by our love for one another.

I would like to thank all those who have supported me, known and unknown, on this journey. I thank my family and friends, my sponsors, Inclusive and affirming ministries, corresponding attorneys (SERI, Moodie & Robertson Attorneys, Webber Attorneys and Van der Spuy Attorneys) my legal team (Pieter Coetzee, Anna-Marie de Vos, Alfred Schmidt, Stuart Wilson, Irene de Vos) especially my wife, Melanie Case for their commitment and support.

Ecclesia de Lange

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