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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
South Africa's gays target marriage
Gay men
South Africa guarantees equal rights for gays
A lesbian judge in South Africa has told the BBC's Network Africa programme that gay couples, who have just won the right to adopt children, should be allowed to get married.

"The next step is to legalise gay unions," Suzanne du Toit said, adding that a court case on this issue was coming up next month.


I look at them both as my mums

Nushka, daughter of Ann-Marie de Vos
On Tuesday, South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled that people in "permanent, same-sex partnerships" could provide children with a stable home and the support and affection necessary.

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.

'Ecstatic'

The case to have the relevant sections of the Child Care Act declared unconstitutional was brought by Ms du Toit and her partner, Ann-Marie de Vos.

Ms de Vos' 13-year-old daughter, Nushka, shared her parents' joy.


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

Sam Nujoma Namibian President

"I'm really happy, now that I have two legal parents," she said.

"I look at them both as my mums."

Ms du Toit said that with the spread of Aids in South Africa, the need to find adoptive parents was increasing and so the sexuality of the adults was less important.

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.

Ann-Marie de Vos said she was "ecstatic" about the judgement.

She and Ms 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' two children.

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

Cultural difference

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

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".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Suzanne du Toit on BBC Network Africa
"I was absolutely thrilled and relieved"
See also:

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