SA first to tackle sexual orientation discrimination, judge

Johannesburg - South Africa was the first country to include no discrimination based on sexual orientation in its Constitution, Judge Edwin Cameron said on Friday.

"We became the very first country in April 1994... that included two crucial words in our Constitution and the words were sexual orientation and our equality clause contains the prohibition against unfair discrimination regarding sexual orientation," he told a discussion at the University of Johannesburg.

"No other country in the world has done that."

There were many forms of discrimination not just race and gender.

Cameron said it was a difficult but vital issue which needed to be discussed.

"It's an issue that's not only important to the vulnerable among us, it's not only important for that self-identifying same-sex-orientated woman in a township who's at risk from some of her neighbours," he said.

"It's important to all of us because this question of sexual orientation goes throughout humanity."

South Africa was carrying a light on the continent where there were terrible things happening.

Cameron referred to Uganda and Nigeria's stance on sexual orientation.

He said how the issue was confronted institutionally, nationally, and constitutionally determined how people related to their own humanity.

Cameron, who is a Constitutional Court judge, is an openly HIV positive gay man and activist.