- President Cyril Ramaphosa has passed a new Bill that prevents marriage officers from opting not to preside over same-sex marriages
- The Bill now makes the Home Affairs minister responsible for ensuring an officer is available to solemnise a civil union at every office
- This new legislation has been warmly welcomed by the Centre for Human Rights
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President Cyril Ramaphosa has officially passed the Civil Union Amendment Bill into law on Thursday.
This new legislation prevents marriage officers from refusing to conduct same-sex marriages and prompts Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi to ensure every office has a marriage officer available to solemnise a civil union.
The Centre for Human Rights has applauded the passing of the bill by the National Council of Provinces. Spokesperson Thiruna Naidoo noted that the new bill overrides an old law that allowed marriage officers to inform the Home Affairs Minister that they object to solemnising a civil union of this nature on the ground of conscience, religion and belief.
Naidoo said that this provision had long served as a challenge to the legal recognition of same-sex couples, reports News24.
Naidoo further explained that the new bill has provided for a period of 24 months to train Department of Home Affairs officials and to ensure that same-sex couples are no longer turned away.
The spokesperson lauded the bill as a positive step towards removing differentiation between traditional marriages and civil union partnerships and reducing discrimination, vital moves when it comes to achieving equality.
Earlier, Briefly.co.za reported that Ramaphosa vowed to direct a large number of resources to tackle gender-based violence, including changes to South African law.
President Ramaphosa has announced that the introduction of these Bills will honour the promise made to the nation last year, commenting that:
"The three amendment Bills are designed to fill the gaps that allow some perpetrators of these crimes to evade justice and to give full effect to the rights of our country’s women and children. These Bills, once finalised, will help to restore the confidence of our country’s women that the law is indeed there to protect them."
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