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December 01, 2004

Landmark ruling in favour of 'gay marriage'

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein has ruled in favour of Marié Fourie and Cecelia Bonthuys, a Pretoria lesbian couple who want to have a legally recognised marriage, says a Mail & Guardian Online report. The couple had argued that the existing SA Marriage Act was unconstitutional because it excluded same sex marriages, and therefore discriminated against gays and lesbians. The court, in a majority decision, declared that under the Constitution the common law concept of marriage was to be developed to embrace same sex partners. It said the intended marriage between Fourie and Bonthuys was capable of lawful recognition as a legally valid marriage, provided the formalities in the Marriage Act were complied with. According to common law, marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This made it impossible for same sex couples to be married to each other. Judge of Appeal Edwin Cameron said in his judgment that the definition of marriage should read: 'Marriage is the union of two persons to the exclusion of all others for life.' The couple challenged a Pretoria High Court decision, in favour of the Department of Home Affairs, which dismissed an application to have their marriage in October 2002 legally recognised. Evert Knoesen of the Gay and L esbian Equality Project, who appeared as amicus curiae in the appeal, said the organisation was happy with the decision, and it had already filed an application in the Johannesburg High Court challenging the statutory regulations. The case would be heard early next year.
Full report on Mail & Guardian Online site


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