South African gay families fall foul of new immigration law


home_affairs_child_travel_law_hits_gay_parentsThe Department of Home Affairs’ controversial new regulations on travelling with minors are having a particularly harsh impact on same-sex couples, claims the Saturday Star.

According to a report in the newspaper over the weekend, there appears to be confusion and uncertainty among officials as to how these rules affect gay and lesbian families.

The regulations require adults travelling with a minor in and out of the country to provide the child’s passport as well as an unabridged birth certificate with details of both parents.

The matter, however, seems to be especially complex for same-sex families raising adopted children or those that have had children through a surrogate.

These couples may need to supply additional documents, which could take hours to be verified. There also appears to be confusion about what is required, with the law apparently saying one thing and immigration officials another.

Griffin Shea and his husband Purilarb Cherngphatthana revealed that they have struggled with the process at OR Tambo International Airport when travelling with their two adopted sons.

“Each day we went to OR Tambo the rules seemed to change. There is no clear communication about what documents need to be provided and each agent doesn’t ask us to provide a consistent set of documents,” Shea told the newspaper.

He added that, “the law assumes all families are static or conventional,” and noted that, “less than a third (29 percent) of South African children live with both their biological parents…”

Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete responded that the department is committed to “ensure that no client is unable to travel due to misunderstandings that may occur.”

He explained that same-sex couples travelling with their children need an unabridged birth certificate with both their names and if only one partner is travelling with the children, a letter of consent is required from the other partner.

Home Affairs has insisted that the new regulations are required to stem child trafficking, despite growing evidence that the onerous law is causing a dramatic decrease in tourism to the country.

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