Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee will meet on Wednesday to start the process of making the controversial same-sex civil union bill law.

The committee will start to lay the groundwork for the piece of legislation to be tabled in parliament. It will also decide on how the public will participate in commenting on the bill. According to reports, it appears as if this may include written submissions as well as public hearings in parliament.

While the government was expected to alter the exiting Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry, it chose to propose new legislation which would create a separate kind of “union” for gays and lesbians. According to the bill, marriage officers will be able to choose if they are willing to “solemnise” same sex civil partnership or not.

Ironically, both gay rights organisation and religious groups seem set to oppose the bill. While organisations such as activist group OUT believe that the bill does not place same-sex unions on the same level as traditional marriage, conservative leaders claim it will destroy the “sanctity” of marriage.

The Marriage Alliance claims that it will organise marches across the country on the 16th of September to protest against same-sex marriage.

Members of the Joint Working Group (JWG) – a coalition of South African LGBTI activist and support groups are preparing written submissions, a letter writing campaign and even pickets outside parliament to convince government to abandon the bill and instead adapt the Marriage Act.

To view the proposed bill, click here (PDF document).

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