Court ruling sets it straight

2003-03-17 13:29

Johannesburg - A Constitutional Court ruling on Monday relating to same-sex couples merely clarified the law and laid down no new principles, said an attorney for one of the parties.

Raymond Tucker, representing Judge Kathy Satchwell, the applicant in the case, said: "Today's case is of interest only to Constitutional Court judges and a few lawyers. It lays down no new law, no new principles."

Tucker said Monday's judgment merely corrected an error in legal drafting.

The Pretoria High Court had ruled that sections of the Judges' Remuneration and Conditions of Employment Act were unconstitutional because they conferred benefits on spouses only, and not on same-sex partners. That ruling was confirmed by the Constitutional Court in July 2002.

Tucker said: "That ruling had huge implications, especially for civil servants in long-term gay relationships."

In the meantime, a revised version of the Judges Remuneration Act had been passed, but, through an oversight, the words "partner in a permanent same-sex life partnership in which the partners have undertaken reciprocal duties of support" had been omitted.

Monday's Constitutional Court order was that those words be inserted into the act and its regulations.