26 March 2021
Victory for the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign as Equality Court orders the Labia to screen the film A Roadmap to Apartheid
CAPE TOWN — The Legal Resources Centres welcomes the judgment from the Western Cape High Court delivered today in two matters involving the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and the Labia Theatre. Both matters were heard together on 2 and 3 September, 2020. The LRC represented the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign in both matters.
In the first matter – the review application – the decision of the South African Human Rights Commission, taken on 14 November 2014 ordering the Labia to screen the 2012 film Roadmap to Apartheid, was reviewed and set aside. The PSC withdrew their opposition to the review application and its main focus was the Equality Court challenge they pursued against the Labia.
The PSC elected to bring an Equality Court challenge following a long and arduous battle with the Labia Theatre to screen Roadmap to Apartheid, a documentary that compares the circumstances of Palestinians living in the occupied territories to the plight of black South Africans during apartheid and highlights the oppression of Palestinians in the apartheid State of Israel. The Labia refused to screen the film and the PSC held the view that their conduct in refusing to screen this documentary amounted to unfair discrimination.
The Labia, an independent cinema operating since 1989, promotes itself as available to be hired by the members of the public for private screenings. Ludi Kraus of the Labia, after researching the nature of the PSC film, refused to screen the documentary on the basis that it was a ‘highly controversial film’ and an ‘Anti-Zionist production’.
The substantive question before the Court was whether the Labia’s conduct by not screening the film on two occasions, amounted to unlawful discrimination on the prohibited grounds of ‘conscience and belief’ or on a ‘comparable ground’ in terms of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000.
The Court found that the PSC held a ‘genuine’ and ‘reasonable’ belief that Palestinian people are ‘being subject to Israeli occupation’ and its aims are to educate the public of Israel as an apartheid state and thus the PSC’s genuine conscience and belief must fall within the prohibited grounds as envisaged by the Equality Act.
The Court said that the Labia made it clear that the documentary was ‘pure propaganda’ and ‘Israel bashing’ and thus it is evident that the true motive for denying the screening was the Labia’s difference of ‘conscience’ and ‘belief’ with the PSC. The Court held that the conduct of the Labia clearly amounts to unfair discrimination on a prohibited ground.
The court stated that:
“ The conflict between Palestine and Isreal is infamous and notoriously controversial. It is not uncommon that people easily find themselves on one side of on the oter. This creates antagonism. The PSC is legitimacy acting on behalf of the people of Palestine, and to advance a view that hopes, one day, to reduce their oppression. The PSC, firmly believes that historically, the Palestinians have suffered patterns of disadvantage. The conduct of Labia in this matter does not ease that burden but actually perpetuates this pattern.”
Accordingly, Judge La Grange ordered that:
- The Labia must screen Roadmap to Apartheid, with or without the Zionist Federation or any other invited Zionist organization or individuals’ participation;
- The PSC is liable for the rental costs associated with leasing the Labia for screening the film;
- The Labia must screen the film within 60 days of this order; and
- The Labia is to pay the costs of this application.
The LRC welcomes this judgment and the affirmation by the court that ‘private persons can attract a duty to make contractual offers where a refusal to do so would be unfairly discriminatory.’[ENDS]
Issued by the Legal Resources Centre
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