South Africa information

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel to South Africa

South Africa is a shining beacon for LGBT travellers in comparison to most of Africa. It has enshrined equal treatment of the LGBT community in law and recognises same-sex marriage. South Africa Tourism actively encourages gay travellers; one factor behind Cape Town becoming Africa’s de facto ‘gay capital,’ and ranking among the world’s top gay cities.

South Africa is a fairly accepting country for most tourists and it has some particularly gay-friendly areas to visit. That said, be aware of not only the law, but also the current climate of opinion: read on, and always check your government's latest travel advice before you visit.

The legal framework for LGBT travellers in South Africa

On the 8th May 1996, South Africa's Constitution was the world’s first to make discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal. Then on 9th October 1998 homosexuality was legalised by the courts – a ruling which applied retroactively back to 27th April 1994.

The push for greater LGBT rights continued throughout the 2000s. On 30th November 2006 South Africa became the fifth country in the world, and the only country in Africa, to legalise same-sex marriage. Openly gay people now serve in the South African armed forces; transgender people are permitted to alter their recorded gender in the population registry, allowing them to acquire updated passports and other identity documents; same-sex couples can adopt children, and also arrange IVF and surrogacy treatments; and in short, LGBT people enjoy statutory protections from discrimination in employment and other areas of life.