First Gay Marriage in Africa
Posted on Dec 4, 2006
Two game rangers in South Africa have become the continent’s first legally married same-sex couple. South Africa’s constitution was the first in the world to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Despite the new law, which gives same-sex couples the right to marry legally, many South Africans still oppose gay marriage and homosexuality. Conservative churches have vocally stated their opposition to the marriages, and many traditional groups denounce homosexuality as “un-African.” And gay men and lesbians often face violence in Soweto and other townships across South Africa.
Many members of parliament of the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), have voiced their disapproval, but the bill was passed because [President Thabo] Mbeki and other party leaders pressed all members to vote in favour of the legislation.
The ANC said the party must support the country’s constitution, which was the first in the world to specifically prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Many gays and lesbians had supported the struggle against apartheid.
In contrast, many African countries make homosexuality a crime carrying severe punishments. Even in South Africa, [Vernon] Gibbs and [Tony] Halls have had a difficult time. Their guest lodge, Arendehoogte, which means Eagle Heights in Afrikaans, was publicly vilified by the local Dutch Reformed church, which objected to the couple welcoming gay tourists. The lodge was vandalised five times.
AP Photo / Ambrose Peters, Sunday Times
Tony Halls, left, and Vernon Gibbs kiss after being married in George, South Africa, on Friday.