South Africa set for gay unions

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South Africa’s cabinet has given the all clear for a change in the law regarding same sex unions in the country.

The change in the law will come following a constitutional court decision that the definition of marriage in the 1961 Marriage Act was unconstitutional and as a result needed to be changed by Parliament.

Government spokesperson Themba Maseko told “it failed to give the same status, benefits and responsibilities to same sex unions that marriage accorded to heterosexual couples.”

Parliament has been given until the end of the year to change the law.

Mr Maseko also indicated to reporters that the new Bill would provide for civil unions between people “whether same or different sex who had not concluded a marriage or civil partnership.”

Although the spokesperson admitted that the issue is emotional, he pointed to the fact that it is a constitution requirement that the change to the 1961 law is made and is not a point for discussion.

“All South Africans should bear in mind the constitutional judgement on the matter,” he said.

The change in the law is part of an improving South African situation for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)community.

South Africa bid to hold the gay games in 2010, losing out to Cologne.

According to lesbian volleyball star Leigh-Ann Naidoo, though, the games need to reach out to the Third World, and out of Europe and the US, through countries such as South Africa.

She told the Mail Guardian “In the States they have hundreds of gay sports leagues, but legally they’re way behind us. We have a Constitution that has taken us far ahead — but we don’t yet have the kind of enabling society that encourages gay sports leagues. There’s work to be done.”