In what he’s described as the hardest 570 days of his life, a gay Christian minister is fighting back against the church that he says fired him because of his sexuality.
Philip Olivier, 36, was dismissed from his position of minister in the Afrikaanse Protestant Church (APC) of Groblersdal in Limpopo on 18 November 2014.
He claims that most of the charges against him were trumped up and “boil down to the fact that because I am gay I am not suitable to be a minister in the church”.
The APC first took action against Olivierafter he appeared in a group photo taken at a social function hosted by Triarc, an LGBT insurance and medical aid company, posted on Facebook.
The church also accused him of working for the company, which Olivier denies, and for officiating a marriage without authority. He insists, however, that he took part in the ceremony with the church’s approval and that he did not formally solemnise the marriage.
In addition to suddenly finding himself without a job and with an outstanding student loan, he was also thrown out of his church accommodation. Without any other career to fall back on, he had to sell his possessions, lost his car and is facing growing debt and an uncertain future.