South Africa

South Africa's post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, and in 2006 South Africa became the fifth country in the world, and the first in Africa, to legalise same-sex marriage. While these are significant advances, LGBT people in South Africa continue to face hostility and violence.


Male to male relationships: Legal

Female to female relationships: Legal

Age of consent: Equal for heterosexuals and homosexuals

Marriage and substitutes for marriage: Recognized on national level

Possibility of changing gender on official documents: Yes

The protection of LGBT rights in South Africa is based on section 9 of the Constitution, which forbids discrimination on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation, and applies to the government and to private parties. The Constitutional Court has stated that the section must also be interpreted as prohibiting discrimination on the basis of transsexuality.

More on the South African law at

Legal incidents

A report from Human Rights Watch documents discrimination and abuse against black lesbians, transgender men, and individuals who, while born female, do not conform to feminine gender norms and expectations. These individuals and groups experience discrimination, harassment, and violence at the hands of private individuals and sometimes state agents: "We'll Show You You're a Woman" (2009)

LGBT organizations/networks

- Triangle Project : Triangle Project is a Cape Town-based organization. Their purpose is to empower gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons through health and social development programmes that promote individual and community well-being and pride, and build individual and community capacity. Triangle offers Medical Services and HIV testing and counseling; The Gay & Lesbian Helpline; Face-to-face Counselling; Support & Discussion Groups; a Library Service; and Training & Development Programmes including a variety of workshops and training programs including courses in personal growth; counselling skills; safer sex, HIV/AIDS; sexuality and gender issues.

- Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (South Africa) :  Formerly the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality, the new Lesbian and Gay Equality Project is a civil and human rights group that lobbies against discriminatory practices by government and the private sector. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender and martital status is specifically outlawed in the Bill of Rights chapter of the South African Constitution (1996).

- Durban Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre: The organisation empowers the LBGT community by providing services, support and training to enable them to claim their rights to equality, dignity and freedom within the context of transformation.


South Africa is party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). 

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