A South African man has gone to a Pretoria court to claim his share of his deceased same-sex partner’s estate. Mark Gory will be contesting legislation that does not allow him to inherit the estate left by his partner – who died without a will.

Same-sex marriage remains illegal in South African (until later this year at least) and therefore the two were not in a position to legalise their relationship before the man’s death.

Gory however says that the couple tied the knot in an officially unrecognised “commitment ceremony”. His partner’s family is contesting the claim and are trying to have the estate awarded to it.

While Gory’s legal team admits that there is no written or contractual proof that the two were in a long-term committed relationship, their strategy is to prove this through testimony by people who know the couple.

South African law – specifically the Intestate Act of 1987 – states that in the case of heterosexual marriage, should there be no children and no will, the surviving partner will inherit the entire estate in the case of the death of the other. Gory’s attorney, Crystal Cambanis, says that she is aiming to ensure that the law be extended to also apply to same-sex couples.

She added that she is prepared to go all the way to the constitutional court for a definitive ruling on the matter.

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