Home Affairs to now officiate over same-sex marriages as bill is passed

The National Assembly passed the second Private Members' Bill on Thursday afternoon.

Picture: freeimages.com.

CAPE TOWN - Home Affairs marriage officers will no longer be allowed to refuse to marry same sex couples.

The National Assembly on Thursday passed only its second Private Member’s Bill, initiated by Congress of People’s Deidre Carter that will repeal Section 6 of the Civil Union Act.

The section gives civil servants a way to opt out of officiating over same-sex marriages.

The amendment will, however, not impact religious leaders not in the employ of the state, who may still refuse to marry same-sex couples.

Twelve years since the Civil Union Act was passed, civil servants may still opt out of marrying gay and lesbian couples.

Two-thirds of Home Affairs offices refuse to officiate over same-sex marriages.

Of the 409 marriage officers, 38% of them are exempt from officiating over same-sex marriages on the grounds of conscience, religion or belief.

Cope’s Deidre Carter says this is unacceptable.

"The provision offends the right of same-sex couples to equality and human dignity in the Bill of Rights. In fact, it's in direct conflict with the act."

According to the bill, the amendment will only come into effect in two year’s time, something the Democratic Alliance and Inkatha Freedom Party say should happen immediately.

The Economic Freedom Fighters has also endorsed the bill.

But the NFP, ACDP and the AIC objected, saying the amendment undermined culture and religion, and the rights of civil servants should also be respected.