Lesbians, gays can adopt children

2002-09-10 12:18

Johannesburg - Lesbian judge Anne-Marie de Vos said she was "ecstatic" after the Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday that gays and lesbians could jointly adopt children.

The court ruled that legislation denying them this right was unconstitutional.

In a written judgment by Judge Lewis Skweyiya the court ruled that people in "permanent same-sex life partnership(s)" should be allowed to jointly adopt because such a relationship could provide the stability, support and affection envisaged for children by the Child Care Act.

"Of course I am ecstatic, and I am relieved it is all over," said De Vos, who, with life-partner Suzanne du Toit, also a judge, applied to have sections of the Child Care Act and the Guardianship Act declared unconstitutional.

The two women have been in a permanent partnership since 1989, and Du Toit will now be able to adopt De Vos's two children - Nuschka (13) and Reid (10).

"I needed to know that if something happened to me Suzanne would be able to take care of the children. We just want to be settled and secure in the knowledge that we can both take care of them," she said.

Earlier the Pretoria High Court ruled the legislation unconstitutional, but this ruling had to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court, as it was on Tuesday.

De Vos said she had expected the ruling.

"The indications were that the (Constitutional Court) judges were positive about our case," she said.

She also said she and Du Toit had always intended bringing the issue to court because they believed certain of their rights were infringed by legislation.

The Constitutional Court judges agreed with them, saying the rights to equality and dignity were infringed by the specific sections of the un-amended Child Care Act and Guardianship Act, and that this legislation did not give "paramouncy" to the best interests of children.

"Family life as contemplated in the constitution can be lived in different ways... The stability, support and affection envisaged by the Child Care Act can be provided by people in permanent same-sex relationships," said Deputy Chief Justice Pius Langa, reading Skweyiya's judgment into the record.