Married persons can change gender identity without divorce, rules Western Cape High Court

The Western Cape High Court has ruled that individuals in legally-recognized marriages may amend their gender identification and update all legal documents without dissolving their marriage. The case centered on three women and their female spouses who pursued the department of Home Affairs in court after having their applications to change their gender identities rejected. The couples were married under the 1961 Marriage Act, which pertains to heterosexual unions, while same-sex marriages are only recognized under the 2006 Civil Union Act.

Prior to this ruling, married individuals who wished to legally change their gender identity were required to divorce their spouse in order to avoid same-sex marriage. The Western Cape High Court Judge emphasized on the importance of the Alteration of the Sex Description Act that should be implemented in a manner compliant with the Constitution of South Africa to respect the lives and ensure the right to identity of transgender persons.