n Acta Juridica - On the limits of cultural accommodation : : part III : reflections on themes in Justice Langa's judgments

Volume 2015, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1346
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2088



In , Chief Justice Langa held that it constituted unfair discrimination for a public school to prevent a learner from wearing a nose stud to school, because wearing the stud was a voluntary part of the learner's religion and, more importantly, her culture. In this contribution we consider the limits of this type of cultural accommodation after by focusing on two questions: What types of beliefs and practices are "cultural"? And how should courts determine the burdens other must bear to accommodate cultural practices? First, we offer preliminary answers to three central questions that left unanswered: What is a culture? Who qualifies as a member of a culture? How do we determine which practices are part of a culture? Second, we discuss the role and meaning of "reasonable accommodation" and argue that mistakenly framed it as a balancing test between the interests of the learner and the school. In doing so, it obscured other important factors that should be considered.

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