The mother who became obsessed that her two children aged 9 and 11 would turn gay – her former husband had divorced her because he was gay – has been ordered by the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to attend parenting classes.
The woman, who cannot be named to safeguard the identity of her children – a boy and a girl – battled to come to terms with the fact that her husband was a homosexual, a fact she only became aware of after 12 years of marriage.
The couple’s two children often went to visit their father over weekends and during holidays, as per a court order regarding custody.
The mother was at first hesitant to allow the children to visit her former husband, only identified as “M”, but later became more relaxed in this regard.
However, this was until “M” had befriended a male couple who were married.
He and the children on occasions slept over at the couple’s home during “movie-evenings”.
The court was told that on these occasions a “Christmas bed” was made in the lounge, from where they watched the movies.
“M” assured his former wife that nothing untoward happened during these occasions and the children loved movie nights.
But the mother point-blank refused that her former husband have further contact with the children, although he religiously paid her maintenance towards their care.
“M” turned to the court last week as he desperately wanted to see his children during the Easter holidays.
The court issued an urgent order that he may see the children as per the custody order. It was further ordered that the mother immediately scheduled and attend a full course of parental guidance classes, consisting of at least eight sessions.
The couple divorced in 2014 and the court was told that despite the best efforts of “M” and the fact that he loved his wife, during 2012 he “came to the clear realisation that his sexual orientation was not that of heterosexuality”.
He confessed this to his wife, who was shocked and disappointed. She regarded his sexual orientation as a “choice” and not the way he was.
The court was told that the wife had not moved-on with modern times and she came from a culture where homosexuality was considered a sin.
“M”, meanwhile, entered into a relationship for a few years with another man. The parents at the time took the children to a psychologist to ensure they could cope with their father’s new lifestyle.
The mother allowed her children access to their father. Her attitude changed when “M” and his lover broke up and he befriended a gay married couple.
Her lawyer wrote a letter to the father, in which she voiced her fears that “M” is “promoting his way of living to the children” and that it “may cause the children to experiment sexually and engage in homosexual and bisexual behaviour at a later stage”.
The mother at first wanted to break all contact between the father and the children, but later agreed they could visit him, provided there were no “sleepovers” at the home of his gay friends.
The court was told that the mother’s “whims” and homophobic beliefs were misplaced and actually had nothing to do with the children, as she could not come to terms with the life choice of “M”.
It was argued that some stereotypes of gays and lesbians hold the misconception that these people had an “erotic” affinity for persons of the same sex.
It was said the classification of lesbians and gays as “exclusively sexual beings” stood in stark contrast to the perception of heterosexual parents as “people who, along with many other activities in their lives, occasionally engage in sex”.
The court concluded it was the mother who had her own fears and insecurities, resulting in her misconceptions.
It was thus in her interest to undergo therapy in this regard.