Consent judgment welcomed

2008-11-26 20:00

Johannesburg - A Constitutional Court judgment on Wednesday confirming that old laws relating to sex between males were discriminatory was welcomed by the man who was jailed for having sex with an under-aged youth.

Izak Geldenhuys, who took the matter to the court, was convicted in 2005 in the Pretoria Regional Court on 10 counts of indecent or immoral acts with a young boy.

He successfully appealed the matter by arguing that Sections 14(1)(b) and 14(3)(b) of the Sexual Offences Act, 1957 were unconstitutional.

Those laws set the age of 19 for legal consent for same-sex sexual acts, in contrast to only 16 years for legal consent to different-sex sexual acts.

The Supreme Court of Appeal agreed that this was discriminatory and overturned convictions for six of the 10 charges which had occurred when the boy was over 16, but under 19.

On December 16 a new law came into effect setting 16 as the uniform age of consent for sex between males and for heterosexual sex.

A statement from his lawyers said he had been convicted under the discriminatory provisions although the boy was found by the trial court to have participated voluntarily in the sexual acts with him.

They said the confirmation by the Constitutional Court that he had been discriminated against means that he would be released immediately on parole.

Geldenhuys has been in jail since his arrest in 2003.

"He expressed his special gratitude to the Legal Aid Board who had agreed to fund his appeal after he had become unable to pay for legal representation due to his detention," his lawyers said.