Scouts South Africa youth (Pic: Facebook)
In the wake of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) allowing gay adults to serve as leaders, Scouts South Africa has confirmed that it has no restrictions on gays and lesbians.
Last week, the BSA’s National Executive Board voted in favour of a resolution to remove the ban on gay adults serving as employees and volunteers with immediate effect.
That follows a December 2013 decision by the American organisation to allow gay and lesbian youth to become scouts.
Speaking to Times Live, Milly Siebrits, the CEO of Scouts South Africa, stated that participants are not restricted by gender, sex or sexual orientation in South Africa.
“Scouts SA is committed to and believes in the inclusion of any eligible individuals who seek to join the organisation, in whatever capacity, either as youth or adult members,” she said.
The South African Scout movement opened its doors to girls in 2001.
The head of the Voortrekker Youth, Danie Langner, also said that the Afrikaans organisation allows gay participants, stating: “We do have gay members and we try to accommodate [everyone].”
US courts have allowed private organisations such as the BSA to discriminate when it comes to their membership, but the same would not be allowed under South Africa’s Constitution.
Although its recent move to be more accepting and open has been welcomed, the BSA has been criticised for exempting local church-organised Scout units from the new policy; letting these units limit volunteer leaders on the basis of sexual orientation.