Marriage officers have to now marry same-sex couples - EFF

Fighters welcome the passing of the Civil Union Amendment Bill by the NCOP


Thursday, 02 July 2020

The Economic Freedom Fighters welcomes the passing of the Civil Union Amendment Bill by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), which will prohibit marriage officers of the law from refusing to marry same-sex couples. The passing of this legislation entrenches the values of our constitution and protects the rights of those who have historically been denied their constitutional rights to marry whom they see fit.

As the EFF we have been in support of this Bill since 2018, understanding that officers of the law should conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the constitution and the protection of the rights of all, even those within the LGBTQI+ community. For marriage officers of the State to be able to deny marrying same-sex couples on the basis of their religious beliefs or subjective conscience is inconsistent with their duties as people tasked with carrying out duties on behalf of a democratic state.

A civil union is not exclusive to religion, nor does it necessarily have to be religious. A civil union falls under the guidance of our constitutional democracy and no one acting on behalf of a constitutional state can deny others their freedoms with an excuse of religion. Section 6 of the Civil Union Act which has been amended stood at odds with the constitutional rights of members of the LGBTQI+ community and has correctly been repealed.

We have noted that there are three members of the EFF deployed in the NCOP who without mandate, voted against the passing of this Bill. The EFF Caucus in the National Assembly fully voted for the Bill, but there are NCOP Delegates who without mandate objected to the Bill in the NCOP.

We have asked these members to account for voting in a manner which is inconsistent with the EFF party position on legislation around the LGBTQI+ and against our position in governance regarding this Bill which dates back to 2018.

The EFF unreservedly apologises to the LGBTQI+ and civil society activists who have toiled to see this progressive move towards justice and dignity be restored.

The EFF will continue to advocate for aggressive public awareness and communication strategies and training interventions all aimed at or directed towards positively changing social norms which declare LGBTQI+ sexual preferences as abnormal.

Amongst other laws that continue to perpetuate systemic homophobia, queerphobia and transphobia, the EFF will advocate for the amendment of the Criminal Law Amendment Act and existing legislation to include harsher minimum sentences for 'corrective' rape specifically, or crimes committed with hatred as motivation in general against the LGBTQ+; and related legislation to ensure the Home Affairs Department expedites ID alteration applications for transgender applicants.

Easy access to a public health system that ensures easy access to gender-affirming treatment remains a vehement stagnancy in how our society and health system is mired to exclude the LGBTQI+ from health services they require. To this effect, the EFF is committed to legislatively advocate for systemic changes that are cognizant of the struggles of the LGBTQI+ and their right to free and quality healthcare.

The EFF calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign the Bill and ensure it is seen into effect as a matter of urgency.

The EFF reaffirms its position in support of the LGBTQI+ community and calls for active participation by all those in society in advancing and defending the rights of all people of South Africa regardless of their gender and sexual orientation.

Statement issued by the EFF, 2 July 2020