Freedom of association as a foundational right: Religious associations and Strydom v Nederduitse Gereformeerde Gemeente, Moreleta Park

Authors Shaun de Freitas

ISSN: 1996-2126
Affiliations: Associate Professor, Department of Constitutional Law & Philosophy of Law, University of the Free State
Source: South African Journal on Human Rights, Volume 28 Issue 2, 2012, p. 258 – 272


In Strydom v Nederduitse Gereformeerde Gemeente, Moreleta Park the applicant was appointed as an independent contractor by the respondent (a church) to teach music to its students. The respondent terminated the services of the applicant when it was discovered that he was involved in a same-sex relationship. However, it was decided that the respondent had discriminated unfairly against the applicant. This decision has prompted earnest debate regarding the parameters of appointments by (and membership of) religious associations in South Africa. This investigation contributes to such debate arguing that appointments by (and membership to) a church may require an adherence to the core tenets of such a church, irrespective of the functions emanating from such an appointment. Also, the view that same-sex sexual conduct should not be used as a discriminatory ground in appointments (membership) by a religious association is critically analysed, hereby presenting some insights as to the relationship between the right to equality and religious rights and freedoms, especially in the context of diversity and identity in a pluralist and democratic society.