National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality and Another v Minister of Justice and Others

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National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality and Another v Minister of Justice and Others  (1998) 
by Justices Lourens Ackermann and Albie Sachs, in the Constitutional Court of South Africa
National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality and Another v Minister of Justice and Others was a landmark decision of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, in which the court struck down as unconstitutional the laws forbidding consensual sexual activities between men, on the grounds that the Constitution of South Africa explicitly forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The case was originally heard in the Witwatersrand High Court by Judge Jonathan Heher, who struck down the laws in question as unconstitutional. South African law requires that all orders of constitutional invalidity be referred to the Constitutional Court for confirmation, and argument was duly heard by the court on 27 August 1998.

The applicants in the case were the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality, a voluntary association representing LGBT South Africans, assisted by the South African Human Rights Commission, an independent chapter nine institution responsible for promoting human rights. The respondents were the Ministers of Justice and of Safety and Security, who have political responsibility for criminal law enforcement, and the Attorney-General of the Witwatersrand, at the time the official in charge of prosecutions in the area under the jurisdiction of the Witwatersrand High Court, which includes the city of Johannesburg. They did not oppose the application, except for limited opposition to the remedy requested.

The decision of the court, handed down on 9 October 1998, was unanimous; the majority judgment, in which the other judges concurred, was authored by Judge Lourens Ackermann, while Judge Albie Sachs wrote a separate concurring judgment.

Constitutional Court of South Africa


Case CCT 11/98


The National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality  First Applicant
The South African Human Rights Commission  Second Applicant
versus
The Minister of Justice  First Respondent
The Minister of Safety and Security  Second Respondent
The Attorney-General of the Witwatersrand  Third Respondent


Heard on  :  27 August 1998
Decided on  :  9 October 1998




Judgment





For the Applicants:  Mr GJ Marcus SC and Mr M Chaskalson instructed By Nichollas, Cambanis and Associates
For the 1st Respondents:  Ms GCM Masemola instructed by the State Attorney, Johannesburg.
For the Amicus Curiae: Mr D Davis instructed by Wits Law Clinic.
This work is in the public domain because it was created and first published in South Africa and it is an official text of a legislative, administrative or legal nature, or an official translation of such a text.

According to the Copyright Act, 1978, § 12 (8) (a), "No copyright shall subsist in official texts of a legislative, administrative or legal nature, or in official translations of such texts."