Friday, August 25, 2006

South Africa soon to be first African country to legalize same sex marriage

South Africa is on the way to becoming the first African country to legalize same sex marriage. The Cabinet has approved legislation to present to Parliament after judicial rulings that it was unconstitutional to deny marriage to gay people. Certain Christian groups are calling for a constitutional amendment protecting marriage as an institution for heterosexuals only. According to the South African Broadcasting Corporation:
Cabinet has given the green light for a bill allowing same sex
marriage, which would make it the first country in Africa to accord homosexual
couples the same rights as their straight counterparts.

Themba Maseko, the government spokesperson, said Cabinet had approved
the bill - which must still be adopted by Parliament after the constitutional
court ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny gay people the right to marry.
"Basically (the bill) will legalise same sex marriage in compliance with the
constitutional court ruling," said Maseko, who could not say when Parliament
would discuss the bill.

The bill, which has drawn opposition from religious groups who want a
referendum on the issue, is still subject to public comment. The Cabinet
decision puts South Africa on course to join a handful of mostly European
countries that allow same-sex marriage, making it the first to do so in Africa,
where homosexuality remains taboo and opponents decry gay unions as

Meanwhile, the Marriage Alliance of South Africa, said to represent 20
million Christians of various denominations, has called for an amendment to the
Constitution to protect marriage as a heterosexual institution. This comes after
the Constitutional Court ordered parliament to correct defects it considered
invalid in the statutory and common-law definitions of marriage of same sex
couples not enjoying the same status and benefits coupled with responsibilities
accorded to heterosexual couples.

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