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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 November 2006, 17:07 GMT
Gay in SA: To wed or not?
Gay and lesbian South Africans give their views after parliament passed the a bill to legalise same-sex unions.

Midi Achmat, 42, activist and finance professional in the Western Cape

Midi has been with her partner for 21 years.

Today's change in law was needed but it is not enough.

Mpumi Mathabela (R) and Asanda Mjobo
Even if the court ruling had been different we would still have gone ahead with it. Not necessarily in a year, but as soon as we're ready
Mpumi Mathabela
South African lesbian

The problem that gay couples face is that they feel abandoned by the church because of their sexuality.

That is what needs to be changed. That is our challenge.

I would not get married. I am not interested - I don't want to follow rules that straight people do.

I support the equality clause in the constitution and that everyone must be treated the same and that people should be able to choose freely.

But that is my personal view.

Quite a few people will get married.

Those who are religious feel that they should get married because it's against their religion not to do so.

They want to get married, they love each other.

But the church will not let them. The church does not recognise their union.

And for many gay couples, the problem is that they want to be wed with the blessing of their church.

A civil ceremony is not enough.

However, South Africa's divorce rate is one of the highest in the world and so let's hope the change in law does not add to it.

My partner and I have a commitment to each other but that is not seen as a marriage because we are gay, because we are lesbian.

We have been given a blessing by a priest and an imam - I am Muslim and my partner is Anglican.

The priest and imam both know us and so were ok to give us a blessing but they said clearly that our union was not a marriage.

But that was fine with us. For many it is not.

Darren Glazer, 29, shop owner in Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal province

Darren has been with his partner for a little over a year.

From my experience of marriage generally I don't agree with the idea, whether it is same-sex or not.

I know lots of people, including my parents, who have divorced.

It depends on what the individual thinks about marriage. That kind of commitment, binding someone to you, it is a huge decision.

You have got to determine what is important to you - there is the secular aspect, the state, and then there's the spiritual aspect and that to me is the more important.

In this country the state recognises a relationship between two people - whether that couple comprises a man and a woman, or a man and a man, or a woman and a woman.

If you're in a de-facto relationship here in South Africa, in as much that you have been together for six months, then as a couple you get the same benefits as any other couple - gay or not.

And so the change in the definition of the Marriage Act, for the state to recognise it is just a technicality.

The church is not compelled to recognise a commitment between two people of the same sex.

The state can't force the church to subscribe to any views, and so the state legalising same-sex weddings isn't such a big thing.


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