South Africa

At a glance

  • Same-sex relations: legal
  • Legal gender recognition: possible
  • Registration of LGBTIQ organizations: possible
  • Actions related to SOGI at UN: supported IE SOGI in 2019



South Africa is progressive on LGBTIQ legal issues and has a vibrant LGBTIQ social scene, however LGBTIQ South African’s still face many barriers to full equality. In 1996, South Africa became the first county to constitutionally ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In 2002, it became legal for same sex couples to adopt, and same sex marriage was legalized in 2005. Since 2003, transgender South Africans have been able to legally change their gender. There are many South African LGBTIQ activist groups, and annual Pride events are held in cities across South Africa. LGBTIQ representation in pop culture is strong and relatively diverse.

However, despite progressive legislation and public support for the human rights of LGBTIQ people expressed by policy makers at a local and international level, shocking violence and murder of LGBTIQ people, as well as harassment and bullying in public services, such as education and health care, continues to be staggering. At the same time, local activists highlight that police response is often slow.