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01 July 2020 – Media Statement: The LRC welcomes the National Council of Province’s decision on the Civil Unions Amendment Act

Media Statement

01 July 2020

The LRC welcomes the National Council of Province’s decision on the Civil Unions Amendment Act

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) at its sitting this morning passed the Civil Union Amendment Bill.

In 2019 the LRC, together with Free Gender, made a submission in support of the Amendment Bill. The purpose of the Civil Union Amendment Bill is to repeal section 6 of the Civil Union Act of 2006 which allows marriage officers to inform the Minister that they object, on the ground of conscience, religion, and belief, to solemnizing a civil union between persons of the same sex.

The LRC supported the Bill and submitted that section 6 specifically lists “same-sex unions” as the only reason a civil marriage officer may object, meaning that it endorses discrimination by state officials on the basis of sexual orientation alone. Giving civil servants the right to refuse to solemnize a same-sex marriage undermines same-sex
couples’ Constitutional right to equal protection and benefit from the law and it limits their access to basic services that are freely available to heterosexual couples, which the Constitutional Court specifically required parliament to address when enacting the Civil Union Act.

The NCOP Committee agreed that the repeal of Section 6 was important in advancing equality and upholding the Constitutional rights afforded to persons entering into same-sex unions.

Issued by the Legal Resources Centre
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