South Africa Progressive on LGBT Rights but Gays Still Battle for Social Reform

Published: October 22, 2014

Cath Everett
Original Article:

In a continent that has seen an upsurge in anti-gay legislation lately, South Africa appears, on the surface of it anyway, to be a little oasis of progressiveness – as can be witnessed at this weekend’s much-feted Joburg Pride festival (Saturday, 25 October).

While some 38 of Africa’s 55 countries now criminalise homosexuality, South Africa by way of contrast became the first country in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation when introducing its new Constitution in 1996.

Under the apartheid regime, homosexuality had been a crime punishable by up to seven years in prison for men, although not for women whose sexuality, in line with other former British colonies, was not even recognised.

Laws protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and intersex (LGBTI) citizens from employment discrimination followed in 1998, while legislation permitting same-sex marriage and civil unions entered the statue books eight years later – although it is still up to individual civil servants and members of the clergy to decide if they will conduct such ceremonies or not.

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