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Last Updated: Friday, 1 December 2006, 17:03 GMT
First SA gay wedding celebrated
Tony Halls (l) and Vernon Gibbs (r) getting married
Tony Halls (l) and Vernon Gibbs (r) have suffered homophobic attacks
Two men have celebrated South Africa's first gay wedding in the Southern Cape town of George on the day the law allowing same-sex unions took effect.

Vernon Gibbs and Tony Halls have been planning their wedding for eight months and chose a double-barrelled surname.

Vernon Halls-Gibbs said it was significant that the union took place on World Aids Day.

"This marriage... is for all HIV/Aids sufferers and gay people who have experienced discrimination," he said.

We are just two men who love each other and who have loved each other for a long time
Vernon Halls-Gibbs

The couple run a guest lodge and animal rehabilitation centre, which was attacked last year after it was marketed to gay tourists.

The Halls-Gibbs wore game-ranger outfits to their wedding, reports the AP news agency.

They said they only received the go-ahead for the wedding from the home affairs ministry on Thursday.

"I just have one message I would like to give to everybody that we are just two men who love each other and who have loved each other for a long time," said Vernon Halls-Gibbs.

The new law sparked a rush by business to service the new "pink wedding" industry.

A Cape Town jewellers offered 20,000 rand ($2,800) worth of jewellery to the first gay couple to get married and hotels are offering customised receptions.

The Civil Union Act was signed into law on Thursday after the Constitutional Court last year set a 1 December deadline for the law to be changed.

That ruling was based on South Africa's liberal constitution, which was the first to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

South Africa is the first African country, and the fifth in the world, to allow same-sex unions.




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