South African Civil Unions Act grants marriage equality, as well as license to discriminate. One MP wishes to change that

Deidre Carter and Mosiuoa Lekota (center) of COPE meet with trainees in South Africa.

In 2006, South Africa was among the first countries in the world, as well as the first in Africa, to pass marriage equality. However, this law has built-in discrimination, as government officials are able to utilize the “conscientious objector” provision that allows them to opt out of officiating duties. The result of this provision is that some jurisdictions, are left without an officiator who will perform marriages. As much as a third of South Africa’s officers refuse to issue same sex marriages, or 421 out of 1130, according to Deidre Carter, Member of Parliament.

The political party COPE (Congress of the People), filed a complaint with the office of the Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa on Friday, as Carter has lodged a Private Member’s Bill to repeal the portion of the law that allows government officiators to not issue marriages to same sex couples. “In my mind this provision was clearly unconstitutional for a number of reasons” Carter said, who filed the notion after it came to her attention that people had been turned away. She notes that “the state may not unfairly discriminate, directly or indirectly, against anyone on a number of grounds, including those of gender, sex and sexual orientation.”

Victory Institute and our South African partner, Triangle Project, have worked closely with Deidre Carter over the past year.  She participated in our upcoming research publication on LGBTQ political participation in South Africa.  Carter also attended our fourth training module, along with COPE party President Mosiuoa Lekota, to meet trainees and speak to the importance of LGBTQ political participation.  As a straight ally, she is greatly appreciated, and we will continue to engage her on these issues.  Matthew Clayton of Triangle Project had this to say about her and her bill: “We are also pleased that someone in Parliament has shown the leadership needed to drive this issue. This bill is bound to face stiff resistance and we hope that others join Ms. Carter on the right side of history.”

Elected Officials, International