Refusing to marry gays may become illegal
THE National Assembly yesterday passed a bill which will make it impermissible for marriage officers working for the state to refuse to marry samesex couples.
However, objections were raised that the Department of Home Affairs had a 24-month transitional period for training.
The Civil Union Amendment Bill, which seeks to repeal section 6 of the act allowing marriage officers to opt out of marrying same-sex couples on the basis of “conscience, religion and belief”, was passed with the support of most parties.
The bill was introduced by Cope 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.”
The proposed amendment was supported by the ANC.
“What was disturbing was almost 88% of marriage officers in the department were exempted from marrying same-sex couples,” ANC MP Hlomani Chauke said.
The bill gives the Department of Home Affairs a 24-month “transitional period” to train officers.
DA MP Hanif Hoosen called for the transitional period to be scrapped.
“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,” said Hoosen.
The amendment bill was opposed by the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), the National Freedom Party and the African Independent Congress. ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe said it was the start of the state’s encroachment on churches.
“Our constitution protects freedom of conscience, religion and belief, and Parliament has a duty to see that people do not act against this conscience in places of work. No one should be forced to accept a moral wrong,” said Meshoe. | African News Agency (ANA)