Re­fus­ing to marry gays may be­come il­le­gal

Cape Argus - - METRO -

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)

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