"Cape Argus", May 26, 1999

"... it seems SA may give statutory recognition to gay 'partnerships' while  stopping short of terming them marriages.

This emerges from the reply of Minister of Justice Dullah Omar to a question  during an ANC election meeting in Claremont last night.

He said the SA Law Commission was reviewing the marriage laws. Legislation to regonise customary law had already been approved by Parliament and the commission was finalising the law on religious marriages,  including Muslim and Hindu rites.

The commission believed there had to be 'some framework' for recognizing  same-sex relationships. Provision had to be made for partnerships of people of the same sex in relation to 'property, pension and such matters'.

'It is not a matter which is easy to deal with,' Mr Omar said.  South African law defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a  woman.

There were many aspects of the law which needed to be developed.

The equality clause in the constitution forbids the state from unfairly  discriminating against anyone on a list of grounds which includes sexual orientation.

It is this clause which advocates of the legal recognition of same-sex  marriages say prevents the state from limiting matrimony to partners of different gender.

Some first-world countries have already taken the route of recognising  same-sex permanent relationships while stopping short of calling them marriages."

Jens Friis
Research Unit for Legal and Constitutional Interpretation
Universities of Stellenbosch and Western Cape
Republic of South Africa