The portfolio committee on home affairs in Parliament adopted the Civil Union Amendment Bill on Wednesday.
The bill, which will be presented to the National Assembly to pass, will afford same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.
“The committee is of the view that this amendment is a strong affirmation to the right of equality before the law and further prevents any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” parliamentary communication service’s Hlomani Chauke said in a statement on Wednesday.
The purpose behind the amendment was to repeal section 6 of the Civil Union Act, which allowed a marriage officer to inform the 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”.
“This infringed the right to equality before the law and the right not to be discriminated against by the state on grounds of sexual orientation,” Chauke explained.
The bill proposes a transitional period of 24 months for the department of home affairs to enable officers an opportunity to be trained if it is passed.
“The amendment further requires that during the transitional period; the minister of home affairs must ensure that there is a marriage officer, other than a marriage officer who had been granted exemption through the principal act (the Civil Union Act), available to solemnise a civil union at every department of home affairs office,” Chauke said. — News24