08/08/2017 10:09 SAST | Updated 08/08/2017 10:28 SAST

Our Freedom Of Choice Should Be Respected Also -- Beloftebos Wedding Venue

"It is our conscience before God which prohibits us... not a fear or hatred of homosexual people."

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Strong Christian beliefs were behind the Beloftebos venue's decision not to host a same-sex wedding, an organisation representing the establishment said on Tuesday.

"Marriage is reserved for a life-long commitment between one man and one woman. This is a deeply held belief and is a foundational part of our faith as Christians," said Michael Swain, executive director of Freedom of Religion South Africa.

The venue in the Western Cape wanted its freedom of choice to be respected.

"The management said they respect South Africa's democracy and openness, where people are free to live as they choose, including the right to conclude same-sex marriages," said Swain.

"We respect this freedom of choice and simply ask that our freedom of choice (to believe, and live our lives according to, the Bible) be respected also."

Read: Homophobia In The SA Wedding Industry Seems To Be A Real Problem

Swain sent an email to HuffPost SA with the venue's response after it refused to host the wedding of a same-sex couple.

Beloftebos, near Stanford in the Western Cape, came under the spotlight last week after 29-year-old Alex Thorne had enquired about dates for a possible wedding in 2019 but was told by the establishment that its policy was to only "cater to heterosexual weddings."

Swain said the venue's management noted that the Constitution did not require everyone to believe the same things, and "does not punish people for holding divergent beliefs and opinions."

He pointed out that the Constitution prohibited unfair discrimination on the grounds of conscience, religion and belief.

"As such, it is not correct that our decision (based upon our religious convictions and beliefs) not to host same-sex wedding ceremonies automatically amounts to unfair discrimination or is illegal. To date, no South African court has found that this is the case."

The venue wanted the affected couple to respect its decision, but at the same time it emphasised that it never intended any malice toward them.

"While we do not expect them to agree with our Biblical convictions, we trust that they will respect and appreciate our position," the statement said.

The venue's membership with local tourism authority, Stanford Tourism, was suspended last week.

On Monday, the ANC in the Western Cape also lodged a complaint against the venue with South African Human Rights Commission.