Page last updated at 09:23 GMT, Monday, 27 February 2006

SA couple look forward to gay wedding

Mpumi (left) and Asanda
Mpumi (left) and Asanda are keen to get married
Gay marriages are to become legal in South Africa by the end of this year, after a Constitutional Court ruling that the current marriage laws were discriminatory. The BBC News website's Justin Pearce spoke to one young couple who are delighted at the news.

Mpumi Mathabela and Asanda Mjobo are the kind of couple who finish each other's sentences even when they're disagreeing with each other.

"I'd like to be pregnant..." says Asanda.

"... and I'm like: 'Yippee'." Mpumi chimes in.

"But when we're older," Asanda says. "You can't have a baby in a flat."

"When we have a secure future," agrees Mpumi. "I wouldn't want a child to be asking for something when I couldn't buy it. So as soon as we've sorted that out - we'll have one."

Gay and lesbian couples are allowed to adopt in South Africa, but Asanda and Mpumi will instead be looking for a donor father.

Asanda gets a wistful look in her eye: "Such an experience, that cute little thing growing inside you."

Mpumi shudders: "I'm scared of having a child inside me. I'm glad she made that decision."

If God intended you to be lesbians, then who am I to judge?
Asanda's grandmother
They have been living together for almost two years and have always thought they would get married one day.

"Even if the court ruling had been different we would still have gone ahead with it," Mpumi says.

"Not necessarily in a year, but as soon as we're ready. Maybe in two years, maybe less."

Asanda works as an office administrator - Mpumi produces the website for Behind the Mask, a group that works for the rights of gays and lesbians in Africa.


In contrast to many other lesbian and gay couples in South Africa, Asanda and Mpumi have enjoyed the support of their own families in their relationship.

Mpumi works on gay and lesbian rights issues throughout Africa
"My mother calls Asanda 'Mrs Mathabela'," says Mpumi - she in turn said she was treated like one of the family when she visited Asanda's parents' home in the Eastern Cape.

"My family - they love me," Asanda says. "My gran said when I told her: "If God intended you to be lesbians, then who am I to judge?" They know I'm living a clean life, not doing any drugs and working hard."

Mpumi had a similar experience: "My mum and dad are very open minded. Mum always said: 'Stand up for what you believe in'."


Despite laws that are favourable towards lesbians and gay men in South Africa, discrimination remains common in wider society, and black lesbians endure the worst of the abuse.

They always say we contribute to moral degeneration - they blame that on us, as if the whole beautiful thing of marriage and family values is going to disappear
Earlier in February, a young woman called Zoliswa Nkonyana was murdered by a group of 20 men in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, for being a lesbian.

Asanda and Mpumi recognise that they are luckier than most, and say they would not always advise another lesbian to be as open as they are about their sexuality.

"She must be sure she wants to come out," Asanda says. "It's not always safe to be an out lesbian."

"You need introspection," Mpumi says. "You need to face your fears."


Mpumi recalls harassment when she was a student in Durban: "Guys at the Technikon always said we take their women - like all these women who they don't know belonged to them, or women are some kind of prize."

Asanda tells of the time when she, her former partner and some female friends were out at a cafe one night - a group of men kept calling to them, followed them out when they left, and beat up some of their friends.

Mpumi (right) and Asanda
The couple enjoy the support of their families
"They were jealous because we were with beautiful girls who didn't give them any attention. We don't do public places a lot - we prefer to chill at a friend's house or go to safer places and get a cab home."

In their neighbourhood, people either accept or ignore them.

"One time the painter who was painting the flats came in while I was watching TV," says Mpumi. "He asked if I had a boyfriend, and I said: 'No, a girlfriend'.

"He looked at me - there was that blank look for a second, and then it was: 'I didn't hear you say a word'."


"This gay marriage is something they don't want to hear about," says Asanda. "As if all heterosexual marriages are working OK, and as if when they legalise gay marriage everyone will become gay."

"They always say we contribute to moral degeneration," Mpumi adds.

"They blame it on us - as if the whole beautiful thing of marriage and family values is going to disappear. But family values have already disappeared and we have nothing to do with it. I want to ask one of them what's so perfect about their hetero world the way it is now?"

"Fathers are raping children," Asanda says.

"Brothers rape sisters."

"And we just love one another, but it's a problem for them."

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