Did you know that South Africa is the most gay-friendly destination in Africa? In fact, in November 2006 South Africa became the fifth country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. Our constitution is so fair, that it was the world’s first to make discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal. But that was not always the case. Under the Apartheid regime homosexuality was seen as unnatural and immoral. It was a crime punishable by up to seven years in prison. However, the turning point came in 1998. Four years after the dawn of democracy homosexuality was legalised by the courts, discrimination based on sexual orientation officially became illegal.
The very first paragraph of our Bill of Rights reads that it is “a cornerstone of democracy in South Africa. It enshrines the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.”
And under Equality you will find this: “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.”
Did you know that South Africa is the only African country that legally recognises same-sex marriage?
The general South African attitude towards same-sex marriage, LGBT locals and travellers is very accepting. And it is especially heartwarming considering that the country endured so many years of violence, racism, and inequality. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in South Africa now enjoy the same legal rights as non-LGBT people. This includes the ability to adopt children, arrange IVF treatment and surrogacy.
As a holiday destination, South Africa is especially popular among the gay community worldwide. And it is quite appropriate that South Africa’s nickname is the ‘rainbow nation’. Cape Town is considered the gay capital of Africa. It has an ever-growing community and is home to the annual Mother City Queer Parade (MCQP). In addition to that, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban also have a thriving gay nightlife. In Knysna, along the Garden Route, there is the annual Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival. This festival has been going for two decades and it is a celebration of the cultural contribution the gay community has made to the area. Furthermore, the annual Pride Week is celebrated nationally. In fact, did you know that the biggest rainbow gay pride flag is in Port Elizabeth? This flag, 12 metres by 8 metres, is hoisted every year during Nelson Mandela Bay Pride.
While LGBT travellers are welcomed in the bigger cities, it is often still frowned upon in smaller communities. Especially in black communities, and small conservative towns. Attitudes towards homosexuality and same-sex marriage are changing for the better day by day. However, it is important to exercise discretion.
Get in touch with us if you want to make the most of your trip to South Africa.