PRETORIA, South Africa, November 30, 2004 ( – The South African Supreme Court of Appeal has issued a ruling that may end with the country being forced to accept homosexual marriage.

In a method that has proved itself successful in Canada, homosexual activists in South Africa have by-passed legislatures and used the courts to force the government to change laws defining marriage. A lesbian “couple” sued to have the common-law definition of marriage changed from being a “union between a man and a woman” to a “union between two persons.”

A spokesman for the organization that staged the effort said that the ruling is only the beginning. “It only takes care of a common-law principle, and that means even though judgment was in favour of the appellants, it’s not possible for people of the same sex to be currently married due to the limitations in the current marriage formula and other regulations in the marriage act,” said Evert Knoesen, of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project.  The next steps will be legal actions to change every aspect of legal marriage in South Africa. The work has been on-going for some years. In 1994 Nelson Mandela signed the new constitution which was hailed by homosexualist groups for a clause making discrimination based on sexual identity illegal. Since then courts have ruled to allow homosexual partners to adopt children.

With those beachheads won, activists have moved on to the legal definition of marriage. “We have to go ahead with legal action to fix up those somewhat more minor legal problems and we foresee that within the next 12 months or so, same-sex couples will indeed be married,” said Knoesen. “The principle has been won.”  hw


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