COSATU applauds the National Council of Province’s passage of the Civil Union Amendment Bill yesterday. This was the last leg of a long Parliamentary process going back more than three (3) years.
This is a progressive civil rights bill that seeks to remove an unconstitutional and discriminatory clause in the Civil Union Act.
As part of the compromises when the Civil Union Act was passed in 2006, it allowed Home Affairs marriage officers the right to decline presiding over same-sex marriages to accommodate religious objections. This is like abortion legislation where medical personnel can decline to perform abortions due to their beliefs. This was agreed to on condition that another official is availed to preside over the marriage ceremony.
However, this has resulted in many same-sex couples having to travel hundreds of kilometers looking for willing DHA marriage officers. It is unconstitutional to discriminate on this basis. It may have been a necessary compromise when the Act was passed in 2006, however society has since evolved on the matter and the time has now arrived to ensure the Act embraces the progressive spirit of the Constitution and the anti-discriminatory principles of the Bill of Rights.
COSATU supports this human rights bill and we encourage all marriage officers to embrace it as part of building a caring and humane society. The public service exists to serve the public without exception.
The Federation urges the Bill’s speedy referral to the President for his assent. Equally the Department of Home Affairs must ensure the necessary preparations begin to ensure its smooth and speedy implementation. Human rights are indivisible and non-negotiable.
For further information please contact: Matthew Parks- COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687