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South African freedom fighter addresses gay marriage at UF Law Tuesday

Published: March 25th, 2013

Category: Feature

albie-sachs Albie Sachs, retired Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and life-long freedom fighter in the struggle against apartheid, will speak Tuesday about gay marriage at the University of Florida Levin College of Law – the same day the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case challenging California’s ban on gay marriage.

“Gay Marriage and the Promise of Equality” will be at noon in the Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom, HOL 180, with a book signing immediately following. The talk is free and open to the public. Parking restrictions in the green areas at the law school will be lifted for the event.

Sachs’ career as a human rights activist started in his student days at the University of Cape Town, when he took part in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign. He devoted his law practice to defending people charged under racist statutes and repressive security laws. Many faced the death sentence. He himself was raided by the security police, subjected to banning orders restricting his movement and eventually placed in solitary confinement without trial for two prolonged spells of detention. In 1988, Sachs was the victim of a car bomb attack carried out by South African security agents, losing an arm and the sight of one eye.

During the 1980s and early 1990s Sachs was centrally involved in drafting the African National Congress’ proposed constitution for a new democratic South Africa. As a member of the Constitutional Committee and the national executive of the ANC he took an active part in the negotiations that led to South Africa becoming a constitutional democracy. He was appointed by President Nelson Mandela in 1994 to serve on the newly established Constitutional Court, and in 2005 he authored the court’s landmark decision requiring legal recognition of gay marriage in South Africa.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have Albie Sachs speak at UF,” said UF Law Senior Legal Skills Professor Joseph Jackson. “He’s a remarkable person and a major player in the constitutional transformation of South Africa, who has helped that country heal the divisions of the past.”

Sachs’ talk is co-sponsored by UF Law’s Center on Children and Families and UF’s Center for African Studies.

Sachs will also give a talk at the Center for African Studies at 4 p.m. titled, “Combating Corruption: Kenya’s Efforts to Judge its Judges.” Visit the African Studies website for complete details,




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