South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, on 20th October, signed the Civil Union Amendment Bill removing the provision in the Civil Union Act that allowed government-employed marriage officers at the Department of Home Affairs to refuse to solemnise same-sex unions or marriages based on personal religious or moral objections.

The 2020 Civil Union Amendment Act, which was gazetted on 22 October comes into immediate effect.

Under the new laws, marriage officers may no longer object to solemnising a civil union between persons of the same sex. The Act also requires the minister of Home Affairs to ensure that there is a marriage officer available to solemnise a civil union at every Department of Home Affairs office.

The new development has been massively celebrated by the LGBTI community with many organisations in South Africa releasing statements on the same and community members sharing their elation.

“Many couples faced discrimination at Home Affairs offices and some couples were also forced to travel to other provinces because marriage officers refused to solemnise their unions,” commented OUT’s Hate Crime Manager, Roché Kester, who also manages the Love Not Hate programme.

“This is a definite victory for the LGBTI community and a testament that when the community stands together, great things can be achieved to further the rights of the community and to call out injustice that is discriminatory,” said Kester.

The Civil Union Amendment Act was first introduced as a private member’s bill by then MP Deidre Carter in January 2018. It was passed by Parliament in July of this year.

While conservative groups say the law will violate the right to religious freedom of Home Affairs officials, human rights activists argue that it is necessary to end a discriminatory and unconstitutional provision.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Additional information sourced from