Words: Steve Brown
South Africa’s National Assembly have passed a bill to stop marriage officers refusing to marry same-sex couples.
The new bill – which was passed on Thursday (December 6) – will make it impermissible for marriage officers working for the State to refuse to marry same-sex couples, iol.co.za reported.
The Civil Union Amendment Bill seeks to repeal section 6 of the act which allows marriage officers to opt out of marrying same-sex couples on the basis of ‘conscience. Religion and belief’.
But the new bill was passed with the support of most parties and was introduced by Congress of the People MP Deidre Carter, who said: “It cannot be in our Constitutional democracy that civil servants can be afforded the right in law about whom they would like to serve.”
MP of the African National Congress party, Hlomani Chauke, said of the 409 Home Affairs offices in South Africa, almost 88 per cent of marriage officers were exempted from marrying same-sex couples.
However, objections were raised due to Home Affairs has been granted a 24-month transitional period for training.
Democratic Alliance MP Hanif Hoosen said: “Why should any civil servant have the right to pick and choose which law they want to follow.
“This is wrong. If you are an employee of the State you must serve all citizens… what people do in their bedrooms is none of your business.”
The African Christian Democratic Party, the National Freedom Party and the African Independent Congress all objected to the new amendment.