Refusal by marriage officers to perform same-sex unions could be a thing of the past
A parliamentary committee has agreed to proposals to repeal a law which allows a marriage officer employed by the department of home affairs to object to solemnising a civil union between people of the same sex.
This is one of several pieces of legislation adopted by the select committee on security and justice this week.
The chair of the committee, Shahidabibi Shaikh, said on Friday that the report on this matter and others would be sent to the National Council of Provinces with the recommendation for adoption.
The aim of the Civil Union Amendment Bill is to repeal section 6 of the Civil Union Act, the 2006 law which legalised same-sex marriage.
The section, as it stands, allows a marriage officer to inform the minister that he or she objects on the ground of conscience, religion or belief to solemnising a civil union between people of the same sex.
“It is important to note that the marriage officers referred to in the bill are public servants employed by the department of home affairs,” the committee said in the statement.
The committee also adopted the Cybercrimes Bill, which aims to criminalise the distribution of harmful data messages and to provide for interim protection orders and regulate the powers to investigate cybercrimes.
The bill aims to regulate aspects relating to mutual assistance in respect of the investigation of cybercrime.
Shaikh said all the concerns raised by the committee were addressed by the department and the parliamentary legal adviser in the bill.
The committee further considered and adopted the notice of declaration of amnesty in terms of the Firearms Control Act.
This follows a request from the for a new six months’ firearms amnesty, starting from August this year.
The committee resolved to agree to the new amnesty, but categorically stated that the police should provide more communication to the public regarding the amnesty.
The committee heard that granting another amnesty period would afford the communities another opportunity to surrender illegal and unwanted firearms or ammunition, in an effort to curb the proliferation of illegal firearms in circulation.