Same-sex couple spurned by Beloftebos wedding venue launches #samelove campaign
When engaged couple Sasha-Lee Heekes and Megan Watling started the search for the perfect venue for their perfect day, they could hardly have envisaged the media storm that would erupt.
The same-sex pair hit the headlines when a Stanford wedding venue, Beloftebos, refused to host them because of their sexual orientation.
They've taken their case to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), which says they're not the first gay couple to lay a complaint about the company.
The response said they would not host us because we were the same gender. They then sent us a link to their media statement.Sasha-Lee Heekes, Co-founder - #samelove campaign
The reason that we decided not to turn away from this and simply accept it was because it was blatant discrimination and because it was really hurtful. I mean this is not about feelings of hurt but it's a question much greater.Sasha-Lee Heekes, Co-founder - #samelove campaign
It's a question of personal belief and religious belief being used to unfairly discriminate against same-sex couples and we both knew that we needed to do something about it.Sasha-Lee Heekes, Co-founder - #samelove campaign
Heekes says the reason they first raised the issue on Facebook was not a form of attack, but to raise awareness so that other queer couples would not have to suffer the same humiliation and pain.
It would also influence heterosexual couples about choosing such a venue for their own weddings.
Heekes and Watling are now focusing on taking their case to court, which "will benefit the LGBTQIA+ community at large".
Heekes says it's been heartwarming how much support they've received since "outing" Beloftebos.
Being rejected specifically from Beloftebos isn't the issue. It's the fact that they as a business feel that they have the right to unfairly discriminate against people on the basis of rights that are enshrined in our constitution.Sasha-Lee Heekes, Co-founder - #samelove campaign
Our fight is not with their personal beliefs. Our fight is that everyone deserves equality and everyone deserves human dignitySasha-Lee Heekes, Co-founder - #samelove campaign
We anticipate that it is going to be a long and drawn-out battle with significant costs. We are very lucky to have a legal team that is working on a contingency basis with us to fight this cause.Sasha-Lee Heekes, Co-founder - #samelove campaign
However, they need more assistance and to this end have started the #samelove campaign.
To contribute to their drive for "equality for all", go to www.samelove.org.za.
Any amount, big or small, can really make a difference. Should we recover any costs it will be donated to the Lawyers for Human Rights organisation who are joining us in fighting this cause to fight other issues similar to ours.Sasha-Lee Heekes, Co-founder - #samelove campaign
It's very difficult to explain to people the sense of hurt and shame and rejection... They didn't know us, they weren't willing to know our love... We didn't even ask them to host our wedding specifically, we were actually just asking for further information. For all I know the place could have been expensive and we couldn't have gone there anyway. They weren't even willing to engage with that.Sasha-Lee Heekes, Co-founder - #samelove campaign
Listen to the conversation on Afternoon Drive with John Maytham: