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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Should religious associations be allowed to discriminate?
Author:Bilchitz, DavidISNI
Periodical:South African Journal on Human Rights (ISSN 0258-7203)
Geographic term:South Africa
freedom of association
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/19962126.2011.11865014
Abstract:Should religious associations in South Africa be allowed to engage in acts of unfair discrimination on grounds prohibited in the Constitution where they claim their religious doctrines require it? The author argues for this question, in general, to be answered in the negative, and in the process explores the tension between advancing equality while recognizing the autonomy of private associations. The Strydom case, dealing with the dismissal of a gay music teacher from a church on grounds of his sexual orientation, provides the backdrop for an analysis of these issues. The author critiques the work of Patrick Lenta and Stu Woolman, who argue that greater emphasis should be placed on freedom of association in these circumstances even where such associations promote values that are in direct contradiction to those contained in the Constitution. For Lenta, the core concern relates to 'protecting diversity' whilst for Woolman it involves ensuring a society with a high quantity of 'social capital'. Both authors pay insufficient attention to the South African context, which provides a strong case for a presumption in favour of equality and non-discrimination. The argument the author provides seeks to establish that courts should generally refuse to condone discrimination on prohibited grounds even where this occurs on the basis of religious doctrines. Ultimately, he argues for South Africa to adopt an egalitarian form of liberalism that recognizes limits on the freedom of religious associations to discriminate, as this is necessary to ensure respect for the equal dignity of all individuals in the polity. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]