Member’s bill by MP from Maritzburg a big win for same-sex unions
HOME Affairs marriage officers will not be allowed to refuse to perform same-sex civil unions, under a bill adopted in the National Assembly yesterday.
The Civil Union Amendment Bill seeks to repeal 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”.
It is a private member’s bill brought by Cope MP Deidre Carter, who is a Maritzburger. It is only the second time a private member’s bill has been passed by the House.
Carter said the bill “touches upon the genesis of our constitutional order. It touches that which is most sacrosanct in our Constitution, our Bill of the Rights: 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.”
The Bill was adopted without being put to a vote, but the NFP and ACDP objected.
EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi said it was the first and last time that they would vote for a Cope-sponsored Bill.
The DA’s Haniff Hoosen said they supported the bill, but disliked an ANC-inserted provision delaying the new regime until 24 months after the bill is enacted.
It still needs to be approved by the National Council of Provinces for consent.
This is only the second time that a private member’s bill has been adopted.
On November 28 last year, the National Assembly adopted the Labour Laws Amendment Bill, sponsored by ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley. The bill was enacted by President Cyril Ramaphosa last month. — News24.