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Green Paper on Marriages Published for Comment

May 6, 2021

Department of Home Affairs

Comment is sought on a Green Paper on Marriages in South Africa.

The home affairs department published the Green Paper in Government Gazette 44529 for comment.

According to the department, the Draft Marriage Policy is designed to “establish a policy foundation for regulating the marriages of all persons that reside in SA”.

“The envisaged marriage statute will enable South Africans and residents of all sexual orientations, religious and cultural persuasions to conclude legal marriages that will accord with the principles of equality, non-discrimination, human dignity and unity in diversity, as encapsulated in the Constitution.”

The department emphasized that the “current marriage statute still deprives certain cultural and religious communities from concluding legally recognised marriages”.

This includes Islamic and Hindu marriages, customary marriages concluded in some African communities and marriages of transgender persons.

Marriages in SA are regulated through the following legislation:

• The Marriage Act 25 of 1961 (monogamous marriage for opposite sex couples);
• The Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 120 of 1998 (polygamous marriages for opposite sex couples who are black South Africans); and
• The Civil Union Act 17 of 2006 (monogamous partnerships for both same and opposite sex couples).

The Green Paper focuses on policy overview; statistics on marriages and divorces; policy framework and implementation strategy and intersectionality of family law.

The department plans to submit the Draft Marriage Policy to cabinet for approval by 31 March 2022, submit the Draft Marriage Bill to cabinet for approval by 31 March 2023 and submit the Draft Marriage Bill to parliament for approval by 31 March 2024.

Comment is invited until 30 June 2021.