National jewellery franchise Craig Marks Diamonds claims to be a “forward-thinking company that treats each client’s needs as importantly as they are”, but they’re not exactly following through on that.
Take for example the recent case of Mary (not her real name), who wanted to have an engagement ring designed ahead of popping the big question.
She reached out to the company, and the response wasn’t exactly what she was hoping for.
This story via the Daily Maverick:
“I’ve been looking at various ring designers around Cape Town, and emailed Craig about a potential ring. He didn’t reply, so I followed up with him on WhatsApp,” Mary told Daily Maverick.
In the message sent by Mary, seen by Daily Maverick, she explains the basic specifications of the engagement ring she is hoping to buy. At no point does she mention that the ring is for a same-sex engagement, but Mary refers to the intended recipient of the ring as “she”.
Clearly, Craig connected his dots, and Mary received the following WhatsApp in response:
The ‘Warm Regards’ post-lecture is an interesting touch.
Now I can already hear some of you chomping at the bit to say ‘so what, it’s his business and he can choose his customers as he sees fit’.
Fine, but there’s the small matter of South Africa’s Constitution to deal with:
In a follow-up message exchange seen by Daily Maverick, Mary asked Marks if he was aware that “it’s both unconstitutional and illegal to deny an offered service on the grounds of sex/race/orientation/creed/etc or did you maybe just not know?”
In his response, Marks wrote: “It is not illegal to deny services for religious reasons as has already been settled by the courts in the case of the Christian baker in the making of wedding cakes.”
The case Marks appears to be referring to was heard by the Supreme Court in Northern Ireland in 2018, and thus has no relevance to a South African legal context.
When Mary pointed out that the case in question was not South African, Marks responded in the course of a longer message: “These are the things already argued in court. SA has found the same way regarding a Christian service provider of wedding venues.”
He’s possibly referring to Beloftebos (we haven’t forgotten about you, don’t worry), but could also be referring to Kilcairn Farm in the Western Cape, which was investigated back in 2014 for banning same-sex marriages.
To be clear:
South Africa’s law is quite clear on the fact that discrimination by private business owners on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal, as per the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA).
When Daily Maverick contacted Marks by telephone, he confirmed he was aware of the incident with Mary.
Asked if he was aware that he was engaging in illegal discrimination, Marks said: “No comment. No comment,” and ended the call.
Thus, Craig Marks Diamonds is acting illegally.
Again, I can hear the fingertips of those who talk up the business’ own “morals and principles”, itching to bang out a reply about how it’s their religious right to choose who they design rings for.
It isn’t, according to the Constitution, but putting that aside for a second, it’s a matter of where and with whom you want to spend your money.
I don’t know whether or not Mary (again, not her real name) will press charges, or take the matter to court, but Craig Marks Diamonds could feel the pinch of such a decision if people decided to go elsewhere to have their engagement rings designed.
As a matter of preference, I like to know what kinds of businesses I am supporting, and Craig Marks Diamonds won’t ever be one of them.
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