“Will marriage normalise queers, or will queers radicalise marriage?” : Same-sex marriage in South Africa


Seminar with Lwando Scott (Sociology, UCT)


Date: Thursday, 4 August 2016

“Will marriage normalise queers, or will queers radicalise marriage?”[1] : Same-sex marriage in South Africa

Time: 13h00


This paper is part of an in-progress PhD research project. Using queer theory as a lens this paper examines same-sex marriage in South Africa. The central question that underpins this research project and this paper is why do same-sex couples marry? What is attractive about the institution of marriage to same-sex couples? This paper is in conversation with the normativity debate of the late 1990’s represented by Sullivan (1995) and Warner (2000). Whereas Sullivan is pro marriage and the normalising of gay people, Warner is against marriage and the normalising of gay people. The normalising versus transgressive binary is used a starting point in trying to understand what has taken place in South Africa over the past ten years since the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2006. As a contribution to this debate, this paper argues that same-sex marriage in South Africa is more complex than the normalising versus transgressive binary. In South Africa there is a simultaneity in the appropriation and rejection of normative performance or understandings of marriage. The complex LGBTI context of South Africa renders the normative/queer binary represented by Sullivan and Warner as insufficient to understanding same-sex marriage in South Africa.

[1] Michael Warner (1999). Normal and normaller: Beyond gay marriage.


Lwando Scott is currently a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Cape Town (UCT). His current research is on same-sex marriage in South Africa. Lwando was recently awarded the Inspire Project mobility scholarship to Ghent University (2016). In 2013/14 he was a visiting research fellow with the Fox International Fellowship at Yale University.  He completed a Master of Social Science in Social Responsibility in 2010 from St Cloud State University in Minnesota.  Before registering for doctoral studies at UCT Lwando was an assistant lecturer for Diversity Literacy in the sociology department. While doing his PhD studies Lwando has tutored and mentored undergraduate students in ‘introductory sociology’ and ‘politics of gender’ classes. Lwando was previously involved with the Desmond Tutu Aids Foundation (2011), and the Institute for Security Studies (2007). He has volunteered and subsequently worked at the Minnesota Aids Project as a community educator and conducted trainings on the intersection of HIV/Aids and chemical health (2010). Lwando’s work, academic and otherwise, is centered around advancing queer politics in South Africa.

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