This is just a quick update on the evolving actions around the proposed Civil Union Bill in Parliament.
Deadline for Submissions
You can send a long explanation why you think Same Sex couples should receive the equal rights to heterosexuals or simply send a short note of support. If you wish to make an oral submission in Parliament on 16/17 October, you need to indicate this in your written submission.
The Public Hearing on the Civil Union Bill for the Western Cape will be on Monday, 9 October between 9h00 and 15h00 at the Town Hall in Woodstock. Please note the change in venue!
Triangle Project co-ordinates a peaceful demonstration, so please join us in a peaceful demonstration against the Civil Union Bill and in support of same-sex marriage under the Marriage Act!
Wear a church or Triangle T-Shirt, bring water, a hat and sun-block. This will be a peaceful demonstration. No weapons of any kind will be allowed. We will not be allowed to make noise whistles and Vuvuzelas will not be permitted.
You can also make oral statements at the public hearing (ask for the word!). It will be particularly important to stress the point that homosexuality and same sex marriage is not "un-african", that homosexuality and family are not contradicting and that religion is not a weapon to deny human rights. We as Christians need to make clear that we are all made in the Image of and loved by GOD - irrespective of any sexual orientation.
If you rather hear the good message instead of reading it, click here for a special message from Archbishop Erimitus Desmond Tutu - just for you (courtesy of Out in Africa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival).
Sign the Petition
Download the Petition in support of Same Sex Marriages. Sign it, let your friends, family and colleagues sign it and fax it back. The forms don't need to be full. Every signature counts.
On 10 and 11 October 2006 the public hearings and submissions will be consolidated by Parliament.
On 16 and 17 October 2006 (09h00 to 16h00) the Stakeholder Public Hearings on the Civil Union Bill will take place. We again need to show our face and be there! Watch this space for more info.
On 18 and 19 October 2006 (09h00 to 16h00) the Committee Deliberations and Finalisation of the Civil Union Bill will take place and on 20 October 2006 between 09h00 and 13h00 the vote on the Civil Union Bill is scheduled. Again, your help and face is required.
Background on the Civil Union Bill
The LGBTI sector in South Africa and "fundamental" or "traditional" groups are both unhappy with the Civil Union Bill - although for different reasons.
In adopting the constitution, South Africans committed themselves to a social contract that would never again follow unfair discrimination against anybody by another person or State. The Bill of Rights, Section 9, was designed to prohibit any form of unfair discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation.
The social and legal argument in support of same sex marriages hinges on three constitutionally protected values that underpin a number of rights in the Constitution:
- Equality. The Failure to afford people the opportunity to marry simply because of their sexual orientation is a violation of the rights to equality. If heterosexual people are entitled to marry, homosexual people should also be entitled to marry. Similar, the separate treatment of people where there is no good reason for separate treatment purely on grounds of sexual orientation is also a violation of this right.
- Dignity. The creation of a separate institution for same-sex couples to celebrate their commitment to each other treats them as being unworthy of entering into mainstream society. This represents a serious violation of the dignity of such individuals.
- Freedom. The decision to marry is a fundamentally important choice of serious significance in the lives of individuals. In a free society, lesbian and gay people should be entitled to decide whether or not they wish to make the choice to marry or not. Depriving gay people of this freedom represents a serious violation of freedom.
The argument in favour of the inclusion of gay people within marriage are thus supported by the foundational values of our constitutional democracy. Throughout the Constitution reference is made to a society based on equality, human dignity and freedom. The state has the obligation to respect, promote and fulfil all of the rights within our Bill of Rights that realise these values. Therefore, it is obliged to pass legislation, for example, give proper effect to these values and rights.
If the Civil Union Bill is passed, same sex relationships will not be recognised as 'marriage' in the eyes of the law. The Marriage Act will regulate heterosexual marriage, whilst civil partnerships will be exclusively for same-sex couples. Civil partnerships will be placed on a separate register to marriages. A civil partnership is similar to marriage in most of its legal consequences, but it is not a marriage in the eyes of the law.
Our opposition to civil partnerships resolves around the Constitutional Values at stake for lesbian and gay people, namely equality, dignity and freedom. The adoption of South Africa's Constitution represents a radical rupture for our discriminatory past. The idea that lesbian and gay people's relationships should be treated separately to heterosexual relationships undermines the notion of an inclusive, tolerant society that so many sacrificed so much for.
If Parliament does not pass the Civil Union Bill before 1 December 2006, then the common-law definition of marriage in the Marriage Act will both be changed so as to allow same-sex couples the right to marry as per the ruling of the Constitutional Court. It is a simple, effective and constitutionally valid way affording same-sex couples the right to marry.
(Excerpts from a Information Sheet "What is the Civil Union Bill all about? Why does it fall short of equality for same sex couples" prepared by OUT LGBT Well-being in Pretoria.You can download the full info sheet here)
More Information on the Civil Union Bill
- Same Sex Marriage Resource Section on www.goodhopemcc.org
- Draft Civil Union Bill
- Good Hope MCC Statement to Same Sex Marriages
- Parliamentary Submission by the Joint Working Group (including Good Hope MCC)