Last August 26 about one dozen South African gay activists marched through Cape Town to the Russian consulate to protest the new anti-gay law of Russia. It attracted the attention of many Cape Town residents because Cape Town is known as the Gay City of South Africa. The protest drew a lot of support from the many gay residents in Cape Town although most preferred to go about their daily routines. One of the demands of the protest group was a call for South African athletes and the South African government to boycott the Russian’s Sochi Olympics.

The Gay Rights in South Africa

This isn’t the first gay protest in the country and it certainly never be the last. South Africa has the distinction of being pro-gay since 1996 and even more so when it signed into law the same sex marriage. In 2006.  Under the South African constitution, all South Africans have the right of sexual preference, among other rights and this is what formed the basis of the same sex marriage act.

Cape Town has been pivotal in making gays and lesbians acceptable in society by celebrating their choice and given them the chance to live a normal life in South Africa. In all of Cape Town, the most popular area for gays is the Pink Village or De Waterkant area.  Many of the businesses there are pro-gay or all-out for gays only. This is the place where the Cape Town Pride Festival takes place

Same Sex Marriage in South Africa

The change in the common law definition of marriage to include same sex spouses was a decision from a case filed with the Constitutional Court known as the Fourie (the name of one of the lesbian couple that filed a case for recognition of marital status) versus Minister of Home Affairs. The decision was a landslide with 230 yes votes against only 41 no votes. The next voting took place at the National Council of Provinces and again passed with a vote of 36 to 11. Thus the Civil Union Act became legally enforced.

The basic guidelines of the Civil Union Act are:

  • The couple to be married must be at least 18 years of age
  • Immigration benefits are extended to the foreign partners of South Africans
  • The laws on degrees of affinity and consanguinity applies
  • Married same sex couple get the same medical insurance benefits as other married couples
  • Same sex married couples are allowed to adopt children
  • The use of artificial insemination is accepted for the couple to be considered legitimate parents
  • A South African married gay or lesbian can claim inheritance in case of death of partner provided it is intestate
  • Insurance claim by married same sex couples for accidents is recognized

The passing of the same sex law now makes 3 types of marriage laws in South Africa. They are the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act signed in 1998, the Marriage Act signed in 1961, and the Civil Union Act signed in 2006. A person can only file one type of marriage in South Africa