The National Assembly has approved the much anticipated Civil Union Amendment Bill.
Parliament in a statement said the Bill aims to repeal Section 6 of the principal Act, which allowed for a marriage officer to object on the grounds of conscience, religion and belief to solemnising a civil union between persons of the same sex.
“It also proposes a transitional period of 24 months to give the Department of Home Affairs sufficient time to train those 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 solemnise a civil union at every Department of Home Affairs,” said Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.
In 2006, South Africa became the first African State to recognise same-sex marriages when the Civil Union Act was passed by Parliament. The Act was introduced after the Constitutional Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the State to provide benefits of marriage to opposite-sex couples, yet deny same-sex couples the same.