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Angry South Africa’s Teens Plan Mass Kissing Online Protest

Teenagers are planning to defy the government's ban on under-16 kissing, touching and rubbing up against each other in public, hatching a "kissing protest" on Facebook.

The new law, passed two weeks ago under the Sexual Offences Act, sparked a huge uproar on the popular website. About five groups have been created, some of which have thousands of members.

The act, signed into law by President Thabo Mbeki two weeks ago, makes it illegal for teenagers to kiss, touch or rub up against each other in public. Teenagers could be criminally charged if found guilty of infringing the law.

One of the biggest groups, Everyone Against the New Kissing Law, already boasts more than 6,000 members. When the group was created just over a week ago, it attracted 166 members on the first day alone. There are also plans for a national event on Facebook called Kiss In Protest. On the group for the protest, a call is made for all teenagers to kiss in public places around the country, starting on January 5 and continuing throughout the month.

The event's planner said on the site: "The SA moral police have gone too far. Let's stand together and stop this. It's taking away our freedom of choice and it's against our human rights."

"Kissathons" have already been diarised on Facebook in the Centurion, Sandton and Menlyn areas in Gauteng.

Other groups set up to discuss the law include: "I disagree with the new law that you can't kiss under the age of 18"; "Petition against the illegalisation of the kissing/ touching under the age of 16"; "For people who find the new law stupid"; and "To anyone who has been turned into a criminal It's illegal to kiss under 16".

Nearly every Facebooker disagrees with the new law, with some users from the US and other countries signing up to show their support for the teenagers.

A group member from a Gauteng private school network alleged that her friend, 15, had been fined R250 when she was caught kissing a boy in front of her house. Local police spokesperson Billy Jones said he was not aware of anyone being arrested for breaking the new law. He added that the SAPS legal services in the province were still preparing guidelines for police with regard to its enforcement.

Cape Argus

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