Just 24 hours after its same sex marriage laws were sealed, South Africa has had its first gay wedding.

Vernon Gibbs and Tony Halls married today in the Southern Cape, making them the first couple to wed under the Civil Unions Act.

The couple said they have been planning the occasion for the last eight months.

Vernon told the South African Broadcasting Company, “We are just two men who love each other and who have loved each other for a long time.”

His new husband Tony said: “It gives us as a couple a lot more security when it comes to pension, property and bank accounts.”

Yesterday morning, the government approved the Civil Unions Bill, allowing the “voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnised and registered by either a marriage or civil union.”

The law was approved earlier this month by 230 votes to 41, making South Africa the only part of the continent to allow gay marriage, amongst many gay hostile countries.

The legislation is pretty non-committal, avoiding references to whether the partners are gay or straight.

It has also dissatisfied some gay groups who feel it gives them unequal status to straight couples and runs contradictory to current marriage laws which define the institution as a male and female union.

Last December the Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled that same-sex marriages should enjoy the same legal status as those between men and women, thereby giving the parliament a year to amend the 1961 marriage law.