The leading South Africans who drew up the country's new constitution in 1996 were deeply aware of the country's painful past and of how all Africans had suffered under apartheid. As a result, "human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms" were to guide everything the Government did.
The Bill of Rights is one of the most progressive constitutional documents in the world. Not only does it guarantee the traditional civil rights such as the right to vote, free expression, the rights of association and assembly, but also important social rights such as the right to clean water, health and to be gay or lesbian without being discriminated against. Some of the most important rights are: