Mar­riage of­fi­cers can’t ob­ject to same sex unions

Parly’s civil union bill adop­tion hailed

Sowetan - - News - By An­disiwe Mak­i­nana

The Na­tional Assem­bly has adopted the Civil Union Amend­ment Bill which com­pels mar­riage of­fi­cers at home af­fairs to of­fi­ci­ate at same sex mar­riages even though they may ob­ject to them.

It be­comes the sec­ond bill spon­sored by an op­po­si­tion MP to be passed by the House.

The bill re­peals sec­tion 6 of the Civil Union Act which al­lowed a mar­riage of­fi­cer to in­form the minister that he or she ob­jects on the ground of con­science, re­li­gion and be­lief to solem­nis­ing a civil union be­tween per­sons of the same sex.

COPE’s Dei­dre Carter, who spon­sored the bill, said the amend­ment goes be­yond the mere re­peal of sec­tion 6 of the prin­ci­pal act.

Carter was speak­ing dur­ing the de­bate to pass the bill.

“It touches upon the ge­n­e­sis of our con­sti­tu­tional or­der. It touches that which is most sacro­sanct in our con­sti­tu­tion, our Bill of the Rights and the right to equal­ity and dig­nity, that the state may not un­fairly dis­crim­i­nate and that it has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­mote, re­spect and ful­fil these rights,” she said.

Carter de­scribed the amend­ment as a timely re­minder of the ethos that should in­form the pro­vi­sion of gov­ern­ment ser­vices; of the val­ues and prin­ci­ples that should in­form the moral­ity of those seek­ing to be­come civil ser­vants.

“It says that if you are em­ployed as a nurse, for ex­am­ple, it is wrong to con­tend that it is not your duty to re­move and clean the bed­pans of one’s pa­tients, or to feed them.

“It is wrong to seek em­ploy­ment as a teacher, if you won’t treat all chil­dren equally or fairly re­gard­less of race or creed – or if you refuse to be sub­jected to per­for­mance ap­praisals,” she said.

The Na­tional Free­dom Party (NFP), the African In­de­pen­dent Congress and the African Chris­tian Demo­cratic Party (ACDP) were the only par­ties to ob­ject to the bill.

The NFP’s Sibu­siso Mncwabe re­jected the bill com­plain­ing that de­spite rep­re­sent­ing a large sec­tion of the pop­u­la­tion and hav­ing dif­fer­ent be­liefs, tra­di­tional lead­ers were not con­sulted.

The ACDP lashed out say­ing that there seemed to be broader agenda to put churches and re­li­gious bod­ies un­der pres­sure.

ACDP pres­i­dent Kenneth Meshoe said he wouldn’t be sur­prised if the sec­tion pro­tect­ing rights of churches and re­li­gious would be “tar­geted next”. Meshoe crit­i­cised same sex mar­riages say­ing “the first mar­riage was be­tween Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve”.

In her speech, Carter said: “To the ACDP, I wish to point out that to my think­ing there is dis­so­nance be­tween your re­li­gious stance and aver­sion to gay and les­bian rights and the ethos of most of the world’s re­li­gions, which ad­vo­cate love, tol­er­ance and ac­cep­tance of all,” she said.

/ SANDILE NDLOVU

Nthabiseng Sello Ra­choene and Given Vhuromo tie the knot in what was be­lieved to be a first ever same sex mar­riage in Lim­popo dur­ing a wed­ding held in Venda on Novem­ber 14 2015.

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