The South African Cabinet has approved the Civil Unions Bill that will legalise same-sex marriage, paving the way for it to be tabled before parliament.

This Bill takes into account the Constitutional Court judgment which found that the common law definition of marriage in the Marriage Act of 1961 was unconstitutional, insofar as it failed to give the same status, benefits and responsibilities to same-sex unions that marriage accorded to heterosexual couples.

The Bill also provides for the recognition of domestic partnerships between adults, whether same or different sex, who had not concluded a marriage or civil partnership. According to Cabinet, “the legal consequences of such a partnership will be spelled out and recognised in law once the Bill is passed by Parliament.”

In a statement, the cabinet said that the bill “was likely to generate a lot of public debate but at the end of the day, the decision of the Constitutional Court must be respected by everyone.”

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