A South African woman has been court-ordered to attend parenting classes after voicing concern that her children would become gay if exposed to their gay father, IOL reports.
The Pretoria couple divorced in 2014 after the husband, identified only as “M,” came out as gay.
As per a custody agreement, the children, a boy and girl aged 9 and 11, regularly visited their father on weekends and holidays. The mother, also unnamed to protect the identity of the children, was initially hesitant but became comfortable with her ex-husband’s visitation rights.
When “M” entered into a relationship with another man, the parents took the children to a psychologist to make sure they could handle their father’s new life.
However, after “M,” now single, befriended a married gay couple, the mother refused to allow the children to have further contact with their father, despite his continued child support payments. She particularly objected to movie nights and sleepovers held at this male couple’s home.
Her lawyer wrote “M” a letter, expressing her concern that he was “promoting his way of living to the children” and that it “may cause the children to experiment sexually and engage in homosexual and bisexual behavior at a later stage.”
“M,” eager to see his children during the Easter holidays, took the issue to court last week.
The court was told that the mother, raised in a culture where homosexuality was considered a sin, regarded her ex-husband’s sexuality as a “choice.” It was also argued that her stereotypical view of gay people as “exclusively sexual beings” contrasted her view of heterosexual parents as “people who, along with many other activities in their lives, occasionally engage in sex.”
After determining that the mother’s fears stem from her misconceptions of the LGBT community, the court ruled that “M” may continue seeing the children as per the original custody order. It was further ordered that the mother immediately schedule and attend a full course of parental guidance classes.
While South Africa was the first country in the world to constitutionally outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, as well as the first in Africa to legalize same-sex marriage, LGBT South Africans often face violence and discrimination.