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Friday, 28 September, 2001, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
South African gays win adoption battle
Gay beauty contest finalists
Gay beauty contests were first held in 1999
A court in South Africa has ordered changes to the law to allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children, as the country prepares to mark Gay Pride Day on Saturday.

Before the ruling at the Johannesburg High Court, homosexuals could only adopt children as individuals.

There's no real difference except kids in homosexual families tend to be more tolerant

Suzanne du Toit
The judgement was made following an application by a lesbian woman, Anna Marie de Vos, a lesbian with two adopted children.

But the Childcare and Guardian Acts, prevented her partner of 14 years, Suzanne du Toit, from co-adopting the children.

To be confirmed

In an interview with BBC's Focus on Africa programme, Ms du Toit said the judgement has to be confirmed by South Africa's Constitutional Court, the highest in the country.

But she believes it "should be a formality".

She denied that kids brought up in gay families were more likely to be gay, arguing that if this were true, those in heterosexual families would not become gay.

Berna Lee
Teacher Berna Lee was a contestant in the beauty contest

"There's no real difference except kids in homosexual families tend to be more tolerant," she said.

South Africa's post apartheid constitution guarantees respect for homosexual rights, unlike in many African countries.

In 1998, courts ruled illegal an attempt by the police medical insurance scheme to refuse medical cover to the partner of a homosexual officer.

Mostly white

A year later a judgement declared that gay foreign partners of South African nationals should be given the same residency rights as spouses.

Also in 1999, South Africa held its first gay beauty contest in the face of protest from the country's Christian conservative lobby.

The Gay Pride Day has been celebrated in South Africa for several years and on Saturday huge crowds are expected to join in the march in Johannesburg city centre.

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips in Johannesburg says that despite the recent legal victories, gays still encounter prejudice and hostility.

He says that homosexuals find it even harder to be accepted by the majority black population and the march is likely to be mostly white.

Suzanne du Toit
"There's no real difference except kids in homosexual families tend to be more tolerant"
See also:

31 Jan 99 | Africa
Gay rights win in South Africa
23 Oct 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
Fighting for gay rights in Zimbabwe
03 Nov 99 | Africa
Gay doctor flees Uganda
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