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Marriage-Supportive Sexual Orientation Resolution
from the African National Congress
December 20, 1997


The African National Congress (ANC), the governing party of South Africa, voted for a “Resolution on Discrimination” fully supporting gay and lesbian equality at its 50th National Conference, which took place December 18-20, 1997.

The Resolution is a remarkably inclusive statement, which is hoped to eventually become the law of the land. Part of that inclusiveness is the call for legal marriage for same-sex couples and the “recognition of lesbian and gay families.”

Here is the text of the ANC Resolution, plus excerpts of a press release from the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality / South Africa (NCGLE).

African National Congress 50th National Conference
16 December 1997 to 20 December 1997
University of the North West, Mafeking, South Africa

Resolution on Discrimination on Sexual Orientation


Noting:

The ANC’s support for the inclusion of sexual orientation in the equality clause of the Interim Constitution;

The retention of equality on the basis of sexual orientation in the final Constitution, as motivated and voted for by the ANC in the Constitutional Assembly;

The ANC’s long standing support of equality for all citizens, including lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgendered South Africans as contained in the policy guide: “Ready to Govern” of March 1993;

Government’s obligation in terms of the final Constitution to secure substantive equality for all citizens;

The ongoing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered South Africans.

Believing:

That the extension of substantial equality to lesbian and gay South Africans is an important sign of the ANC’s consistent commitment to the ideals of equality, dignity and freedom;

That all persons should be treated equally under the law; and

That the ANC should develop and acknowledge its own lesbian and gay members.

Resolves that the ANC National Conference:

  • expresses its solidarity with lesbian and gay comrades in their work for substantive equality for all;
  • tasks its representatives in all levels of government to establish equality for lesbian and gay people in the following areas in particular:
Employment

Equal rights for all workers, including lesbian and gay workers in both the private and public sectors;

The recognition of same-sex relationships for worker benefits (e.g. housing, medical aid and bereavement leave).

Health

The appropriate inclusion of the mental health needs of lesbian and gay people in all mental health programmes;

Addressing issues around lesbian and gay people in relation to HIV and AIDS and breast cancer for lesbian women.

Family Rights

Custody and access, maintenance, immigration and adoption rights for lesbian and gay persons and the recognition of lesbian and gay families;

Establishing the equal right to marry for people of the same sex.

Youth

The appropriate inclusion of lesbian and gay youth in all youth programmes, policy and law;

The protection of lesbian and gay youth from discrimination at home, at school, on the streets and in the media;

Equalizing the age of consent;

Running programmes to counter anti-gay prejudice and inclusive sexuality education programmes for all scholars.

Directs that lesbian and gay comrades should be included in the National Assembly list for the 1999 elections to ensure proper representation in the ANC.

Directs that all levels of the ANC should discuss with lesbian and gay comrades ways in which lesbian and gay equality can be promoted in the ANC.

Excerpt from a December 20, 1997, Press Release from the NCGLE
ANC Sets Historic Standard on Gay and
Lesbian Equality for All Political Parties

The National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality salutes the ANC for its continued commitment to equality for all South Africans. In an historic and comprehensive resolution before its 50th Conference, the African National Congress has adopted a policy which includes amongst other issues:
  • the recognition of same-sex relationships including maintenance, custody, adoption rights
  • equal employment opportunities and benefits for lesbian and gay people
  • the protection of lesbian and gay youth from discrimination at home, at school, on the streets and in the media.
  • an equal age of consent
  • the equal right to marry
The ANC’s position on gay and lesbian relationships sets a new principled stand on equality for all political parties and civil society organizations. We challenge all political parties to adopt unequivocal and detailed policies in support of lesbian and gay equality in the same way that the ANC has done. Lesbian and gay voters will watch the policy statements of all the other political parties.

The Coalition will launch its 1999 Election Platform early in the New Year — the ANC’s commitment has set the standard. Particularly important for translating the policy into reality is the Conference call that “lesbian and gay comrades should be included in the National Assembly list for the 1999 elections to ensure proper representation of all groups in the ANC.”

The ANC’s commitment allows all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people to celebrate the New Year with a sense of pride and dignity.


The NCGLE is an affiliation of more than 70 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered
organizations, which campaigns for equal rights. Its work includes leadership
development, lobbying and advocacy, law reform and litigation.

NCGLE Contacts:
Zackie Achmat (011) 648 7942
Mazibuko Jara (011) 648 2409
Phumi Mtetwa (011) 726 2769
Clayton Wakeford (021) 689 8959


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