Why and how was the Separate Amenities Act implemented in South Africa?

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The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953 was implemented to legalize and facilitate enforcement of racial segregation in South Africa. Parliament passed the act to make explicit that “separate but equal” public facilities were lawful, and to exclude non-white people from public services and spaces.

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In South Africa, the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act was implemented in 1953 to legalize racially based segregation of numerous facilities throughout the country. This act was a crucial in the establishment of apartheid as a policy that would remain in place for 40 years. The initiative for was developed by the ruling National Party. After passage in parliament, the Act was affirmed by royal assent in October.

Following the codification of racial groups with the 1950 Population Registration Act, de facto segregation had become increasingly commonplace. However, these practices were also matched by numerous court challenges to their legality. After a court ruling that declared the underlying premise of separate but equal facilities illegal, white supremacists, including those in the dominant National Party, stepped up their campaign for legalizing the policy and thereby enabling its enforcement.

The key sections of the Act established that facilities allocated based on race were not required to be equal, and legalized exclusion, based on race, from public spaces, transportation, and services. Passage of the Act was important for establishing a basis for corresponding localized legislation. Many municipalities established pass laws, which required documentation that included racial designation in order to use public transportation or simply be on public streets. Furthermore, the 1953 Act became the foundation for numerous refinements which codified specific aspects, such as development acts that banned people of color from living in most cities and many other areas.

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