Judge Kathy Satchwell has been asked by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) if her sexuality should be a concern in her possible appointment as a Constitutional Court judge.
Openly lesbian Satchwell, who is currently a High Court Judge, is one of a number of candidates being considered to fill four vacant positions at the Constitutional Court.
According to Eyewitness News, Satchwell responded that those critical of her lifestyle should consider her commitment to constitutional values.
She added that her personal life had never affected her judgements or professional life and that the Constitutional Court should be inclusive of all South Africans.
Last month attorney Zehir Omar was quoted by the Cape Times as telling the JSC that Satchwell’s sexual orientation rendered her unfit for the job.
“Learned Judge Satchwell’s unconventional lifestyle is not something that the majority of South Africans can relate to. The majority of South Africans are God-fearing and follow some or other religion. There is no religion that condones homosexuality. Therefore the major portion of the South African people will not be able to identify with the learned judge”, he said.
In 2001 Satchwell went to the Pretoria High Court to allow her partner to enjoy the same benefits previously reserved for spouses of heterosexual judges. The ruling in her favour was later confirmed by the Constitutional Court.
If Satchwell is appointed, she will join openly gay serving Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron on the bench.