Marriage officers cannot refuse to marry same sex couples

November 10th, 2020

 By Kgomotso Ramotsho

Officials from the Department of Home Affairs are no longer allowed to refuse to marry same sex couples. This was after President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Civil Union Amendment Act 8 of 2020 (the Act) in GN1108 GG43832/22-10-2020 into law. The Amended Act repeals s 6 of the Act and matters connected therewith –

‘1. Repeal of section 6 of Act 17 of 2006. Section 6 of the Civil Union Act, 2006 (hereinafter referred to as the principal Act), is hereby repealed.

  1. Transitional provision.

(1) Any exemption granted by the Minister in terms of section 6 of the principal Act, prior to the commencement of this Act, lapses 24 months from the date of commencement of this Act.

(2) The Minister must ensure that there is a marriage officer, other than a marriage officer referred to in section 5 of the principal Act, available to solemnise a civil union at every Department of Home Affairs office.’

Before s 6 was amended, marriage officers were allowed to write and inform the Minister of Home Affairs that they object to solemnising a civil union between persons of the same sex on the grounds of conscience, religion and belief. In July 2020, human rights groups urged President Ramaphosa to sign the Civil Union Amendment Bill, ensuring that marriage officers at Home Affairs did not refuse to marry same sex couples.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.

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