Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act

No 55 of 1949

South Africans were required to register as members of one of four racial groups as set out in the Population Registration Act of 1950. The four groups were White, Coloured, Indian and Black.

 

Using these categories, the apartheid government proceeded to criminalise marriages or sexual relations between people of different racial groups. Subsequent to the passing of this legislation, a number of people were arrested and charged for breaking its provisions.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS

What seems to be the overall purpose of these laws?

What are the connections between laws that regulating people’s private lives and laws that regulate their political power?

How are these laws similar to Jim Crow segregation laws enacted in the United States?

1913 ACT NO. 27

NATIVES LAND ACT

The first major piece of segregation legislation passed by the newly formed Union of South Africa. The law decreed that only certain areas of the country could be owned by natives. These areas totaled 13% of the country.

1927- ACT NO 38 

NATIVE ADMINISTRATION ACT

The law established a separate legal system for administering African law and proclaimed Native areas subject to a separate political regime. 

1927-ACT NO 8

IMMORALITY ACT

Prohibited sexual relations between white people and people of other races outside of marriage. The penalty was up to five years for males and four years for females. Women who were allegedly provoking white males into a sexual relationship could be sentenced to six years in prison.

1949-ACT NO 55

PROHIBITION OF MIXED MARRIAGES ACT

Prohibited marriages between white and non-white people.

This was one of the first pieces of legislation passed by the ruling National Party after their rise to power in 1948.

1950- ACT NO 30

POPULATION REGISTRATION ACT

Required every South African to be classified in accordance to their racial characteristics: black, white, and mixed (referred to in the law as “coloureds”). Social and political rights as well as educational opportunities were largely determined by group. 

1950-ACT NO 41

GROUP AREAS ACT

Forced separation between races through the creation of residential areas designated for certain races in urban areas. The white minority owned most of the nation’s land. The law also caused many non-whites to have to commute large distances from their homes in order to be able to work.

1950-ACT NO 44

SUPPRESSION OF COMMUNISM ACT

Outlawed communism and the Community Party in South Africa. The definition of “Communism” was very basic; it included anything that called for a radical change in how the government worked or encouraged feelings of hostility between the European and non-European races. 

1951-ACT NO 68

BANTU AUTHORITIES ACT

This legislation created a legal basis for the deportation of black Africans into designated "homelands." 

Black Africans could live only in their designated homeland --and needed a pass to enter other areas of South Africa.

1952-ACT NO 67

NATIVES

The law compelled every black African over the age of 16 to carry identification (which included a photograph, place of origin, employment record, tax payments, and encounters with the police) at all times. 

1953-ACT NO 47

BANTU EDUCATION ACT

Established a Black Education Department and developed a curriculum suited to the "nature and requirements of black people." The unstated aim of this law was to prevent black Africans from receiving an education and restrict non-white youth to the unskilled or low-skilled labor market. 

 1953-ACT NO 49

RESERVATION OF SEPARATE AMENITIES ACT

Enacted segregation in all public areas including buildings and public transport.

The act stated that the facilities for the different races did not need to be equal and made it legal to exclude people from public places based on their race

Jim Crow Laws in U.S.

These laws mandated segregation in all public facilities such as education, transportation, housing, medical care, and employment. Segregation was also ordered within an institution such as the United States Armed Forces up until the 1950s. In 1896, the Supreme Court upheld Jim Crow laws in Plessy v. Ferguson stating such accommodations were lawful as long as they were “separate but equal”. 

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