Same-sex marriage – South Africa was the fifth country in the world to legalise them.

Need legal advice and support about civil union divorce?

In 2006 the Civil Union Act (Act No. 17 of 2006) came into effect and made same-sex marriage legal in South Africa. This means that, in terms of the Act, two people of any sex can be married or enter into a civil partnership.

Like any other marriage, a same-sex marriage or civil union must be solemnised by an authorised marriage officer in South Africa. Furthermore, the marriage must be registered through the Department of Home Affairs.

Couples entering into same-sex marriage enjoy the benefits of married life and agree to uphold their individual responsibilities towards each other within this legal framework. Additionally, they enjoy the rights that are accorded to all married couples, such as inheritance and end-of-life decision-making. Equally, on divorce, same-sex couples go through the same painful process as heterosexual couples.


Section 9 of the Constitution and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (Act No. 4 of 2000) clearly state that same-sex individuals and couples may not be discriminated against.

South Africa is a forward-thinking country that embraces diversity with legislative processes that enable same-sex unions to be recognised partnerships under law.


This legal recognition extends to the adoption of children. Adoption is governed by the Children’s Act 2005, which does not prohibit a gay or lesbian adoption. The Act allows children to be adopted jointly by:

  • a husband and wife
  • partners in a permanent domestic life-partnership
  • other persons sharing a common household and forming a permanent family unit

Want help or advice on same-sex marriage?

If you are thinking of marriage, whether you are a heterosexual or same-sex couple, Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. can help you decide on the marital regime that is right for you. We are a firm of specialised divorce lawyers and family attorneys in Cape Town and Gauteng. Contact us on +27 (0) 86 099 5146 or

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