Today, the highest court in South Africa ruled that the parliament must amend marriage laws to include same-sex couples within the next year. If parliament does not act, the laws will be automatically changed to give marriage rights to same-sex couples. In the ruling, Justice Albie Sachs wrote, “The exclusion of same-sex couples from the benefits and responsibilities of marriage…signifies that their capacity for love, commitment and accepting responsibility is by definition less worthy of regard that that of heterosexual couples,” reports Reuters.
Stemming from a case in which a lesbian couple petitioned for legal recognition of their marriage, the Constitutional Court’s decision puts South Africa in line to be the fifth nation, and first African country, to legalize same-sex marriages. According to BBC News, lesbian and gay rights activists have won several other battles in South Africa, including the rights to adopt, and inherit from a partner, because South Africa’s 1996 constitution was the first to explicitly outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual preference.