Edwin Cameron, an openly gay, HIV positive judge, has been appointed to the Constitutional Court; South Africa’s highest court.

Cameron who had been serving as a Supreme Court of Appeal judge was put forward by the Judicial Services Commission and officially appointed to the post by President Kgalema Motlanthe on New Year’s Eve.

Speaking to Johannesburg’s The Sunday Independent Cameron said that he was “overjoyed to be given the opportunity.”

It is believed that Cameron is the first openly gay person to ever be appointed to any country’s highest court. While Australia’s Michael Kirby, who is openly gay, is a justice of that country’s High Court, he only came out after he was appointed.

Labelled as an “activist judge” Cameron is seen by some as a controversial appointment because of his vocal condemnation of the Mbeki government’s handling of the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa.

He has said that he will not hear cases relating to HIV/Aids because in that area he had “surrendered [his] judicial dispassion.”

Cameron has co-authored a number of books, including Defiant Desire – Gay and Lesbian Lives in South Africa and as well as Witness to AID, in which he described coming to terms with living with HIV.

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