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Parliament Passes Civil Union Amendment Bill

July 6, 2020

Parliament

The Civil Union Amendment Bill has been passed by parliament and sent to president Ramaphosa for assent.

The national assembly (NA) passed the bill and sent it to the national council of provinces (NCOP) 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 lapsed at the end of the 5th parliament but was revived by the NCOP in October 2019.

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 held 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 passed the bill without amendments.

Meanwhile, the NCOP passed the Cybercrimes Bill and returned it to the NA for consideration of proposed amendments.

The NA passed the bill and sent it to the NCOP for concurrence in November 2018.

The bill lapsed at the end of the 5th parliament but was revived by the NCOP in October 2019.

The Cybercrimes Bill aims to:


• create offences which have a bearing on cybercrime;
• criminalise the distribution of data messages which are harmful and to provide for interim protection orders;
• further regulate jurisdiction in respect of cybercrimes;
• further regulate the powers to investigate cybercrimes;
• further regulate aspects relating to mutual assistance in respect of the investigation of cybercrime;
• provide for the establishment of a designated Point of Contact;
• further provide for the proof of certain facts by affidavit;
• impose obligations to report cybercrimes;
• provide for capacity building;
• provide that the Executive may enter into agreements with foreign States to promote measures aimed at the detection, prevention, mitigation and investigation of cybercrimes;
• delete and amend provisions of certain laws; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

The bill was originally tabled as the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill in 2017.

During its deliberations, the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services decided to only focus on cybercrimes issues, hence the change of the bill’s name to Cybercrimes Bill.

According to the select committee on security and justice’s report, proposed amendments include altering the tone of the bill to reflect non-binary language as required by considerations of gender-neutrality, equality, dignity and identity; restructuring of clause 16 to specifically reflect the impact of the paragraph (a) considerations in criminalising the disclosure of data messages of intimate images and on recommending the amendment of clauses 1, 2, 3, 11, 13, 20, 21, 22, 24, 32, 33, 39, 40, 41, 42, 44 and 59.

The portfolio committee on justice and correctional services will now consider the proposed amendments.