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Tuesday, 10 September, 2002, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
South African gays can adopt children
Gay men
South Africa guarantees equal rights for gays
South Africa's Constitutional Court has ruled that gay couples have the right to adopt children.

The highest court in the country said on Tuesday that people in "permanent, same-sex partnerships" could provide children with a stable home and the support and affection necessary.


I needed to know that if something happened to me, Suzanne would be able to take care of the children

Ann-Marie de Vos, gay parent
Under South Africa's constitution, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is illegal, but provisions of the Child Care Act banned gay couples from adopting children.

This makes South Africa the first African country to let same-sex couples legally adopt children, reports the French news agency, AFP.

The case to have the relevant sections of the Child Care Act declared unconstitutional was brought by two lesbian judges, Ann-Marie de Vos and Suzanne du Toit.

Ecstatic

The laws had already been declared unconstitutional by the Pretoria High Court, but now the Constitutional Court has confirmed the ruling and established that "the rights to equality and dignity were infringed by specific sections of the unamended Child Care Act", according to the Mail and Guardian Online.


If you try to impose your culture on us Africans, we condemn it, we reject it

Sam Nujoma Namibian President
Ann-Marie de Vos said she was "ecstatic" about the judgement and was relieved that the case was now over.

She and Suzanne du Toit have been in a permanent partnership since 1989, the Mail and Guardian said, and they will now be able to officially adopt Ms de Vos's two children.

"I needed to know that if something happened to me, Suzanne would be able to take care of the children," she said.

Both women are judges in the South Africa judicial system.

Cultural difference

South Africa's post-apartheid constitution enshrines gay and lesbian rights through statutes on equality which ban discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, as well as race and gender.

Elsewhere in Africa, there is still discrimination against and suspicion of gay people.

Peter Tatchell
Gay activists tried to arrest Robert Mugabe in London

Speaking in an interview at the Johannesburg sustainable development summit in August, Namibian President Sam Nujoma launched a strong attack on gays in an attack on Western ideas of human rights.

"When you talk about human rights, you include also homosexualism and lesbianism, its not our culture, we Africans. And if you try to impose your culture on us Africans, we condemn it, we reject it," he said.

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe has also been outspoken on gay issues, referring to homosexuals as "worse than pigs and dogs".

In Uganda, President Museveni has outlawed homosexuality as being "against the order of nature".

During visits to Britain, President Mugabe has been the target of protests by gay groups and the gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has tried to make a citizen's arrest because of Mr Mugabe's anti-gay policies.

See also:

28 Jun 02 | AfricaLive
29 Sep 01 | Africa
28 Jun 02 | AfricaLive
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