Making Love A Crime
Everyone should be able to love who they want, right?
Unfortunately, that is not the case for some people, where the act of loving someone openly is considered a crime in their country.
The concept of same sex relationships is not a new one.
Even though society has its reservation, history has proven that same sex relationships have existed from way back in the days of the monarchs and chiefs. Despite this, marriage between people of the same sex has only been recently celebrated and acknowledged in certain countries.
Making It Legal
In South Africa, after a historic vote in Parliament on the 14th of November 2006, followed by the signature of Acting President Phumzile Mlamblo-Ngcuka on 30th December, the Civil Union Bill passed into law, which gave same sex couples the right to get married.
This made SA the fifth country in the world to approve such laws. On the 1st of December 2006, Vernon Gibbs & Tony Halls became the first same sex couple to legally wed under the new law.
South Africa is more liberal in comparison to other African countries when it comes to the LGBTQ community. In some African states, being gay is criminalised and could result in jail or even in death. Homosexual couples in South Africa are protected by Section 9 (3) of the Constitution which expressly prohibits unfair discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
It reads: “The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.”
Even though we enjoy a liberal constitution, people’s negative attitudes have not shifted when it comes to same sex relationships. People still murder others for being gay or being in a same sex relationship, even though our constitution protects us.
Whilst it is important to appreciate the challenges we still face in SA socially, the fact that South Africa is one of the only countries in the world to protect LGBTQ rights under the constitution is something that should be celebrated. Yet, the road ahead is filled with challenges.
Long Way to Go
In many countries outside of South Africa, being gay is outlawed and you are treated as if you are a criminal because of your sexual identity.
Thirty-eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa have laws criminalising consensual same-sex conduct. Underpinning these laws are deeply entrenched discriminatory social attitudes. Some countries in Africa, such as Uganda, have passed laws making it illegal to be gay or engage in any “homosexual activity” (LOL, whatever that means), which just goes to show that we really have a long way to go in achieving equality and making same sex relationships legal across the world.
As mentioned, in order for attitudes to shift when it comes to the idea of same sex relationships, people’s opinions of homosexuality itself needs to change. The issue is not the marriage specifically, but the fact that people cannot stand to see people of the same sex together.
How do we change people’s attitudes for the better??
Let’s discuss. Firstly, it starts by having the uncomfortable conversations surrounding homosexuality, especially with those who are closest to us, such as our family members and close friends. If one of them has a negative attitude towards homosexuality, try and explain to them in a calm manner why their thinking is problematic and wrong.
The first step is getting people to have these conversations and making them aware of their problematic views. Yet, this is just an initial step, and there is so much more that we can do.
What else do YOU think we can do??