EFF MPs who voted against same-sex marriage bill are in hot water

03 July 2020 - 13:09 By aphiwe deklerk
The EFF says it is committed to supporting the struggles of the LGBTQI+ community.
The EFF says it is committed to supporting the struggles of the LGBTQI+ community.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

The EFF says it will take to task some of its members in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) who voted against an amendment bill barring marriage officials from refusing to marry same-sex couples.

On Wednesday, the NCOP voted in favour of the Civil Union Amendment Bill brought to parliament to repeal section 6 of the Civil Union Act, which gives the right to marriage officers to refuse to marry same-sex couples on grounds that include religious belief.

Despite the EFF supporting the bill when it was passed in the National Assembly, some of its members voted against it this week in the NCOP.

The party apologised to the LGBTI+ community in a statement on Friday, and promised to take its members to task for voting against the bill without a mandate from the EFF.

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 party's position on legislation around the LGBTQI+ community, and against our position in governance regarding this bill, which dates back to 2018,” the party said.  

The EFF said it would continue to support aggressive public awareness and communication strategies and training interventions aimed at positively changing social norms which declare LGBTQI+ sexual preferences as abnormal. 

It said it was inconsistent with their duties 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.

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 the 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been amended stood, at odds with the constitutional rights of members of the LGBTQI+ community and has correctly been repealed,” the party said.

The EFF said it will further advocate for the amendment of the Criminal Law Amendment Act and other legislation to include harsher minimum sentences for corrective rape and other crimes committed with hatred against the LGBTQI+ community.

To this effect, the EFF is committed to legislatively advocate for systemic changes that are cognizant of the struggles of the LGBTQI+ community 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,” the party said.