'Viva same sex marriage, viva'

Several thousand people streamed through the streets of Johannesburg on Saturday in the 16th annual Gay Pride march themed “the right to be, the freedom to express”.

On foot or dancing on buses or trucks, a largely white crowd made its festive way through the city under a blazing sun.

Young women on one truck held placards saying: “Same sex marriage is African”, “Viva same sex marriage, viva”, “I am a very traditional woman, that’s why I support same-sex marriage” and “Equality in marriage is one step to real liberation”.

The march began at 4pm outside the Constitutional Court buildings, the site of a former prison where former South African president Nelson Mandela was once held.

In May, the Constitutional Court, South Africa’s highest court, began deliberations on same-sex marriage, prompted by the government’s appeal against a lower court’s landmark ruling that people of the same sex had a legal right to wed.

South Africa’s Constitution, adopted two years after the country’s first multiracial elections in 1994, explicitly bans all discrimination based on sexual orientation. This clause puts the country at odds with the rest of the continent, where homosexuality is largely taboo and, in some states, harshly punished.

Many African leaders, in particular Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, have spoken out vehemently against gays and lesbians.

Another Gay Pride march takes place each February in the southwestern city of Cape Town. - Sapa-AFP

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