Jen Thorpe
Jen Thorpe

Gay love is here to stay – hooray

This weekend in New York hundreds of couples got married. For the first time in their (sometimes very long) relationships, they were able to commit to one another in public and be legally married. If you need any more convincing of what a wonderful, happiness-inducing state of affairs this was, then check out these 60 incredible portraits of some of those who tied the knot.

These people are so freaking happy and what more can we do but be happy for them, celebrate their joy and their victory.

But next door to us, in countries like ours, people like us are prevented from having that celebration. If you check out LGBT rights by country in Africa, you’ll find that things are pretty dire. In the following countries homosexuality is illegal and there is a specific law to deal with its illegality:

  • Algeria
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Tunisia
  • Gambia
  • Guinea
  • Ghana (illegal for men, legal for women)
  • Liberia
  • Mauritania
  • Nigeria (illegal for men everywhere, legal for women in areas not governed by Sharia)
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Togo
  • Zimbabwe (illegal for males, legal for females)
  • Botswana
  • Lesotho (illegal for males, legal for females)
  • Namibia
  • Swaziland ((illegal for males, legal for females)
  • Cameroon
  • Sao Tome and Pricipe
  • Burundi (only since 2009!!)
  • Comoros
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya (illegal for males, legal for females)
  • Malawi (illegal for males, legal for females)
  • Mauritius (illegal for males, legal for females)
  • Seychelles (illegal for males, legal for females)
  • Somalia
  • Uganda
  • Tanzania
  • Zambia (illegal for males, legal for females)

Even only partially recognised states like Western Sahara and Somaliland have legislation against homosexuality.

We are living in times that are so bent on control that they feel a need to restrict who we love. You and I know that when you love someone, there is not much than convince you that you can stop. Love goes beyond the power of law, and beyond the power of dictators, oppressors and fools.

So this is just a little note to love, and to all those who are not legally allowed to love who they want to – Keep at it. Your love is bigger than their hate. Your love is bigger than their fear.  Your love is unstoppable.

  • Iqshan

    Let me save everyone the pain of commenting…
    – Someone called ‘Judith’ will gush praise
    – Some people will pass offensive homophobic comments
    – Someone called ‘Aragorn’ (either his parents don’t love him or they’re closely related) will chide the homophobes and use a lot of postmodern drivel to make him sound clever
    – Someone will try be and be ‘all African’ by saying homosexuality is Western
    – Someone will make a wild statement using a statistic
    – Someone will launch a weird Biblical or Islamic criticism of the content
    – Someone else will ask where the dodgy stat came from
    – Everyone will get on with their lives

    Presonally, I was hoping you’d do an analysis on that dog biting the shark from the feminist perspective

  • Isabella VD Westhuizen

    Jen that is very Hollywood of you and about as insightful and sincere as a “chick flick”. Gay marriage undermines the very fabric of biology and existence and purpose. The structure of teh family one man one woman and children remains the bedrock on which a society is built. Whilst most of us would agree that you should allow these couples to enjoy a civil union to try and equate it with a normal biological marriage is really humanity losing all touch with itself.

  • Aragorn23

    I wish to suggest that while postmodernism, inextricably aligned with the discourses of deconstruction and historicity, explicitly champions alterity, it represses an implicit subjectivity only unleashed in the subsequent penis envy. For while the postmodern hermeneutic embraces an aporia of identity, at least in its ‘faceless’ structuralist regard for models of interpretation, it yet harbours a comfortable subjectivity

  • Brian

    They weren’t “married”. They entered into “civil partnerships”. Marriage in our law is a religious thing based on outdated convention going back to the Dark Ages and Catholic Rome. Not wanting to upset us queers and pander to us, legislators introduced a 2nd class, civil partnership that still allows the homophobes a way to discriminate. I’m not interested and I’m disappointed you fell for the charade

  • Harare

    You are making generalizations, can you name the Act which pertains to the legality of lesbian relationships in Zimbabwe and other countries you are citing?

  • Bernard K Hellberg

    @ aragorn23. May we have this in English?

    Impressive list of asshole states.

  • mundundu

    iqshan: lulz. you win.

    harare: most anti-gay legislation is specifically anti-gay man. if the law does *not* explicitly mention gay women, it’s legal by default. most of such laws came into effect during victorian england, where parliament couldn’t bring itself to mention such a thing to mrs brown.

    isabella: a major reason that my father is married to his current wife [besides love] was that he did NOT want any more children, and she’d already had some of her internal bits yanked. by your argument, they shouldn’t be married.

    hell, zuma’s first wife doesn’t have any kids; should this mean that they’re not really married?

    brian: in france, if you want to be married in the eyes of the both the state and the church, you have to get married *twice*. i’m actually surprised that france wasn’t the first country to recognise “gay marriage” for this very reason. legal marriage, even between a marriage between a man and a woman is indeed a *civil union*. [funnily enough, you can even get a legally binding document for your long-term bit on the side, male or female, and even use *that* to get an entry visa to france.]

    other random folks: you lot seem to be forgetting that for most of history, marriage was a property transaction. in much of the world, it still is. [um, hello – dowry, lobola…]

  • Bigman Peter Crutse

    I wonder what informed those countries that allow it for women not to give the same status to men. it is further unfortunate that those people are oppressed and only find openess when on our shores.

  • Michael Liermann

    Isabella – one man and one woman, eh? I assume you’ll be quitting the ANC in disgust over Zuma’s polygamy, then?

  • Jennifer Thorpe

    @iqshan – you forgot to include that one commenter would take a digg at the author because she’s feminist…

    oh, that was you.

  • Jennifer Thorpe

    @Brian This article seems to say that it was marriage in the marriage-y sense of the word, and not in the civil union sense.

  • brian

    Mundundu. You’ve missed the point. In the Anglo-Saxon world (forget France)we now have separate marital legal frameworks for homosexuals (statute based) and heterosexuals (often common law, derived from canon law). So much for equality. Remember when blacks and whites had separate marriage laws in this country? Why should it feel any different? How is this equality?

  • MLH

    Privacy from the public in any sexual relationship generally preserves dignity. I’m not knocking homosexuality, just saying that people can live together without inflaming outsiders.
    Which doesn’t make the outsiders right!

  • mundundu

    oom piet: it’s because women’s sexuality is considered largely irrelevant. if there’s no penis involved, it’s not sex.


  • goolam.dawood

    lol Iqshan,

    I must say though … its harder to build a mosque in New York … than it is to build a giant pink parade float and dance on it … naked.

  • Jean Wright

    Just for interest, while homosexuality was illegal in the UK (for men) it wasn’t for women, because Queen Victoria didn’t believe women ‘could do such things’!!!! Mundundu is right, marriage was frequently merely a contract of convenience for many, and two ceremonies, civil and religious, are held in France.

    Aragorn, when attempting to communicate, it is best to simplify one’s language. It’s the idea wich matters not the vocabulary.

  • Harare

    I totally agree with Isabella. I too agree that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry if they want just like everyone else. But what I find funny is that a month ago an American man was posing online as a lesbian in Syria. Then the lesbian was supposedly arrested and it became news internationally.

  • Stephen Browne

    iqshan wins … game over!

  • Brian

    @ Jennifer – NY goes further true but until they’re accepted on the same basis as religious unions where clergy and the religulous have an escape clause to respect them, marriage apartheid continues

  • Melanie Nathan our crew were in New York to film – and so was the SA gay flag – However SA you must be advised that State Law allows same-sex marriage. But because of the Federal Statute, DOMA – Defense of Marriage Act, these spouses are EXCLUDED from the 1,38 federal rights – such as immigration sponsorship – as enjoyed by heterosexual couples. There is currently legislation for the Repeal before Congress via The respect for Marriage Act.

  • john carter

    Isabella is as good a rascist as they come. Let me see, its alright to discriminate against people with personal lifestyle choices but not against race or religion? Why so Isabella? I am guessing you must have been on the receieving end of so much discrimination in your time my love!! I am so sorry. You must know what it feel slike to be persecuted right? Be lucky you we apart of the “right” race at the time, so you never had to get your little head worrying about what its like to not have personal freedom, whether thru race, religion or gender discrimination. Thankfully, most of the people who are such bigots, are mostly (with the exception of relgious types) part of an older generation that is dying out. Thank god. The world can do without more bigots. AFRICA WAKE UP AND STOP BLAMING THE WEST FOR HOMOSEXUALITY AND GET WITH THE MODERN WORLD. IT IS NOT OK TO DISCRIMINATE SOMEONE FOR BEING GAY YOU BLOODY HYPOCRITES!

  • mundundu

    um, brian:

    my father and his current wife only had a civil ceremony [which is the one most gay folks will get unless they have a minister who is totally okay with it]. they went to the judge and got hitched.

    my then-18 year old brother was his best man. they actually waited for my brother to turn 18 so that he could be the best man. no lie.

    going to the justice of the peace because the girl is knocked up? civil ceremony. running off to vegas? civil ceremony. the mayor officiating? 9 times out of 10, civil ceremony. ship’s captain on a cruise? civil ceremony.

    in religious ceremonies in the united states, where state law is largely, but not entirely based on “anglo-saxon” law as you put it, the religious officiator says this little line of, “by the power invested in me by the state/commonwealth of ….” those ten words give him or her the right to civilly marry them as well as religiously do so.

    in the united states, one has *always* been allowed to have a religious gay ceremony, providing that your religion allowed for it, or at the very least if the officiant was okay with it. it’s the rights invested [1338 of them in the united states at the federal level] which have always been the tough point.

  • mundundu

    jennifer: you’re right. brian is wrong. it’s marriage, not civil unions.

    just as a guy and a girl can run off to the justice of the peace, 2 guys can do so, and 2 girls can do so.

    a few other states do have civil unions. delaware is one of them, and between new york and delaware both “legalising” unions in some way, my family is putting *serious* pressure for me to settle down now. can you believe that i’m actually using the excuse of “i’m too busy raising kids to get married anytime soon?”

  • Damaria Senne

    I’m just wondering why some people who oppose gay marriage are so quick to sugarcoat it with “have a civil union instead.” If we all have the right to be treated equally regardless of sexual orientation, why shouldn’t gay people have the right to marriage?

  • MLH

    To my knowledge, some SA gays in long-term relationships are considering marriage for the simple reason that it will protect their partners in their wills. Too often families contest because they nullify the relationship after one person’s death.

  • ian

    nice one Iqshan…that was funny

  • Melanie Nathan

    Forget Civil Unions – same-sex couples want EQUAL not Separate! This was the post apartheid promise of Madibe. Never again discrimination. SO EQUAL is marriage for all couples. Separate is Marriage for straight and civil union for GAY! Indeed marriage is an institution that has very little to do with G-d and everything to do with LAW! Religious leaders can marry who they want – but when it comes to Law and statute Gay people should have exactly the same as straight people period!

  • Ms Ann Thrope


    “Gay marriage undermines the very fabric of biology and existence and purpose”

    So i suppose you have one kid for everytime you boinked at the right time of the month? SA has just reached 50 million people, the horn of Africa has millions of starving babies, and the carrying capacity of the planet has long been exceeded. Of all the arguments to make against homosexuality, the fact that they can’t make babies (which is also not true!) is surely the dumbest.

  • Stuart

    Jean etc, it was more because Victoria was so very very much in love with her husband that she didn’t think that women would/could ever be in love with another woman.

    ‘Marriage’ only came about because men were wanting some form of immortality, like male kids to carry on their name …

  • Graham

    Hi Jennifer
    the thing I find confusing, is that ‘marriage’ is a religious union. Vows are as much a promise to God as to you partner.
    Further to say that it is religiously a union between a man and woman.
    So same-sex couples seems keen on the religious marriage, but willing to bends the rules 180 degrees.

    If you want a lawful union, fine, the laws can be rewritten.
    If you want a marriage, stick to the religious laws.

  • mundundu

    um, graham, people getting together for life [or for what might seem to be forever at the time] predates religion.

    you’re aware of this, right?

    [or, if you aren’t, will you next be saying that the earth was made in six days just under 6000 years ago?]

  • Rory Short

    @Graham all laws postulated by humans whether religious or not are human constructs and therefore need to be open to change as our understanding of the issues that they seek to address change. As I, and, luckily many other people too, see it love between two people is a gender neutral commitment so there is no reason why two individuals of the same gender should not fall in love with one and other and it happens al the time.

  • Graham

    @mundundu. People being ‘married’ has not predated religion.

  • john carter

    @Graham. As a grown man Graham, don’t pick and choose what you want to take from Christianity. God or Gods doesnt exist. The world is based on rationality and logic. Now that we have that out the way. You can understand how religion was CREATED BY MAN as a way to channel the esoteric and abstract feelings he sometimes gets inside himself, that he calls “spirituality”. Seeing as there are many Religions, there is no right or wrong, therefore, these human made “religious laws” as you put them, should be up for debate. We are not living in a theocracy, therefore further more, religious laws have no place in our modern democracy. Right Graham?

  • Graham

    So John, you don’t agree with religion, but defend the right to carry out a religious ceremony (where a theorcracy doesn’t exist)? As a grown man John, don’t pick and choose what you want to take from Christianity.