PMG did not attend this meeting. This summary was compiled with assistance from the Committee Secretary.
The Committee considered and adopted the Bill as well as its report on the Bill.
The Bill repeals section 6 of the principal Act, which allows 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.
The Chairperson officially opened the meeting and indicated that a lot of work had been done on the Civil Union Bill. He emphasised that the state cannot discriminate against same sex couples, hence the amendment of Section 6 of the Civil Union Act. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) should not turn away any member of the public who require services at the DHA offices.
The Chairperson requested the Legal Advisor to go through the amended Bill.
Civil Union Amendment Bill
Adv Noluthando Mpikashe, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, took Members through the Bill.
She indicated that the saving provision had been included because the permission was granted by an Act of Parliament. Because of the competing rights, the permission will lapse after 24 months. In the meantime, the Minister of Home Affairs should ensure that each office has a marriage officer to solemnise same sex couples’ unions, while those granted permission should be undergoing training.
The DA indicated that it supports the amendment in principle; however, it suggested that the exemption should cease immediately after the Bill had been signed into law or even suggested a one-year exemption.
There was a discussion where other members indicated that this matter was deliberated at length at the Committee that the law cannot be applied retrospectively and this was the best compromise.
The Chairperson went through the following clauses:
Clause 1: Ms DD Raphuti moved that clause one should be amended and the motion was seconded by Mrs TE Kenye.
New clause: Mrs TE Kenye moved that the new clause two should be amended and the motion was seconded by Mr MH Hoosen
The Bill was adopted by the Committee.
Committee Report on the Bill
The Committee adopted the report on the Bill
The meeting was adjourned.