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More rights for same-sex couples as NCOP passes Civil Union Amendment Bill

The Bill aims to repeal Section 6 of the Civil Union Act, which allowed for a marriage officer to object to perform a civil union between people of the same sex on the grounds of conscience, religion and belief.

FILE: A gay marriage ceremony. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - Same-sex couples will soon have more rights after the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) passed the Civil Union Amendment Bill.

The Bill aims to repeal Section 6 of the Civil Union Act, which allowed for a marriage officer to object to perform a civil union between people of the same sex on the grounds of conscience, religion and belief.

This was found to be unconstitutional.

It's been almost two years since the National Assembly approved the Civil Union Amendment Bill.

On Wednesday, it was also passed by the NCOP.

While the Bill aims to repeal Section 6 of the principal Act, it also proposes a transitional period of 24 months to give the Department of Home Affairs sufficient time to train officials that had been granted exemption by the minister.

It further requires that during this transitional period, a marriage officer, other than those granted exemption, be available to perform a civil union at every Home Affairs office.

Presenting the report, select committee chairperson Shahidabibi Shaikh said that the members felt passing the bill was important.

"Members agreed that repealing Section 6 of the Civil Union Act was important in advancing equality and upholding the constitutional rights afforded to persons entering into same-sex unions."

The ANC's China Dodovu expressed his party's support of the bill.

"As the ANC, we support the amendment of the Civil Union Bill. We support this Bill because it is in line with the Constitution."

The Bill will now be forwarded to the president for signing into law.

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