Same-sex cou­ples’ plea

‘Par­lia­ment needs to move with speed’

Weekend Witness - - News - CLIVE NDOU

MEM­BERS of the gay com­mu­nity in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg want Par­lia­ment, which re­cently ap­proved a pro­posal to com­pel mar­riage of­fi­cers to of­fi­ci­ate at same-sex mar­riages, to move with speed and amend the law.

Pi­eter­mar­itzburg-based Gay and Les­bian Net­work provin­cial health co-or­di­na­tor, Sphelele Nt­shiba, said the move will help al­le­vi­ate the plight of same-sex cou­ples in the city.

“As we speak there are sev­eral mem­bers of the gay, les­bian, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der com­mu­nity liv­ing around Pi­eter­mar­itzburg who were plan­ning to get mar­ried around the Christ­mas pe­riod, but will be forced to shelve their plans be­cause there is no mar­riage of­fi­cer will­ing to marry them,” he said.

The Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces (NCOP) last week ap­proved the Civil Union Amend­ment Bill that will com­pel mar­riage of­fi­cers at Home Af­fairs to of­fi­ci­ate at same-sex mar­riages.

The bill, which has al­ready been ap­proved by the Na­tional As­sem­bly, was pro­posed by Cope MP, Dei­dre Carter, who hails from Pi­eter­mar­itzburg.

Nt­shiba said the mea­sure, if pro­cessed on time, will spare mem­bers of the gay and les­bian com­mu­nity the frus­tra­tion they cur­rently go through when try­ing to get mar­ried. “The is­sue of Home Af­fairs of­fi­cers re­fus­ing to of­fi­ci­ate in gay and les­bian mar­riages is worse in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg than in any other town around the coun­try.

“For our mem­bers, who on a daily ba­sis suf­fer the hu­mil­i­a­tion of be­ing turned away by ho­mo­pho­bic mar­riage of­fi­cers, the amend­ment is long over­due,” he said.

Home Af­fairs mar­riage of­fi­cers who had been re­fus­ing to of­fi­ci­ate in same-sex mar­riages had been re­ly­ing on Sec­tion 6 of the Civil Union Act which al­lows mar­riage of­fi­cers to ob­ject to solem­nis­ing the mar­riages on the grounds of re­li­gion, con­science and be­lief.

How­ever, the bill will make it il­le­gal for mar­riage of­fi­cers to ob­ject to solem­nis­ing same-sex cou­ples on any grounds.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port com­piled by Mam­baon­line, a gay and les­bian so­cial me­dia net­work, only a small num­ber of Home Af­fairs mar­riage of­fi­cers were will­ing to of­fi­ci­ate in same­sex mar­riages. Carter said it was wrong for gov­ern­ment to em­ploy peo­ple as mar­riage of­fi­cers if the em­ploy­ees are on what­ever grounds, not able to ex­e­cute their du­ties.

The bill, which is be­ing sup­ported by all Par­lia­ment’s ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties in­clud­ing the ANC, DA and EFF, has, how­ever, been slammed by the African Chris­tian Demo­cratic Party (ACDP).

“Our Con­sti­tu­tion pro­tects free­dom of con­science, re­li­gion and be­lief and mem­bers of Par­lia­ment have a duty to see that peo­ple are not com­pelled to act against their con­science in the course of their work ...” ACDP MP, Ch­eryl­lyn Dud­ley, said. • [email protected]­

“For mem­bers [of the gay com­mu­nity], who on a daily ba­sis suf­fer the hu­mil­i­a­tion of be­ing turned away by ho­mo­pho­bic mar­riage of­fi­cers, the amend­ment is long over­due.”

Snake cou­ple Si­mon Keys and Siouxsie Gil­lett. PHOTO: SUP­PLIED BY EARTH TOUCH

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