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NCOP Seeks Comment on Civil Union Amendment Bill

November 5, 2019

Parliament

5 November 2019

The national council of provinces seeks comment on the Civil Union Amendment Bill.

The national assembly passed the bill and sent it to the national council of provinces for concurrence at the end of 2018.

The private member’s bill, drawn up by former member of parliament D Carter of COPE, was tabled in parliament in May 2018.

The draft bill was first published for comment in Government Gazette 41475 in early March 2018.

The comment period for the bill was extended at the beginning of April 2018.

The bill seeks to repeal section 6 of the Civil Union Act.

The section allows a marriage officer to inform the home affairs minister that he or she objects on the ground of conscience, religion, and belief to solemnising a civil union between persons of the same sex.

Ms Carter holds the view that section 6 limits the rights of same-sex partners to enter into a civil union. The limitation cannot be justified in an open and democratic society.

During its deliberations, the portfolio committee on home affairs inserted a new clause 2 on transitional provision into the bill stipulating that any exemption granted by the minister, prior to the commencement of the amendment act, lapses 24 months from the date of commencement of the act.

The new clause also calls on the home affairs minister to ensure that marriage officers are available at every home affairs office to solemnize a civil union.

The select committee on security and justice seeks comment on the bill until 29 November 2019.