July 1st 2021 | Daniela Ellerbeck | FOR SA
There has been unprecedented opposition from South Africa’s faith community to the highly controversial DearSA platform had logged nearly 90,000 submissions. Another organisation which represents many members of the traditional African spirituality faith reported sending in over 63,000 submissions to oppose the . Many thousands of submissions have also been sent in from members of the Islamic faith, who see this as a drastic overreach and interference by the State into the heart of the sacred tenets of their faith.Amendment . The Department of Justice had told Freedom of Religion South Africa ( ) that they would consider all comments received until 30 June 2021. By the end of 30 June, the combined and
“While we fully support Government’s efforts to promoteand to prevent , our legal analysis of this makes it clear that it will have devastating and negative consequences for all people of faith”, said Michael Swain, Executive Director of . “We are convinced that this will be the death knell of , if passed in its current form.”
A major concern for the faith community is that theoverturns any form of religious autonomy. Government Ministers must pass regulations and/or codes of practice dictating to organisations what measures to implement to eliminate discrimination and promote , as redefined by the . This will effectively amount to direct State of religion and end the institutional autonomy of religious organisations (as well as faith-based independent schools) to determine their own doctrine, and internal workings, free from interference by the State – rights are specifically protected and guaranteed by the South African .
“Given the extensive legal protection already provided by– as well as other labour law legislation and the protections such as crimen injuria – cannot understand the need for haste to push through a law which will fundamentally rewrite South Africa’s entire legal system and drastically infringe upon other rights, including the right to ”, said Swain. “Our sincere expectation is that the Department will listen to the clear message they have received and acknowledge that what they have proposed has been soundly rejected by the vast majority of the submissions they have received.”