Activist organisation, OUT, has urgently called on the LGBTI community to begin a letter writing campaign and circulating petitions to oppose the Civil Unions Bill. OUT has asked that members of the community begin to write letters to the press about the bill as soon as possible.
Mambaonline supports this initiative; it is vital that gays and lesbians take charge of their future and make their voices heard. It is important for the people who this affects the most to speak out: We can be known as a force to be reckoned with!
Letter writing campaign
In writing to the press you could consider the following points:
- The Constitutional Court ruled (1 December 2005) that Parliament must rectify, within one year, a defect in the current Marriage Act of 1961 so that same sex couples have marriage that is equal in benefit and status.
- Benefits refer to issues such as reciprocal duty for support where you and your spouse will be required to support each other to maintain your usual standard of living as a couple; contributing to the marital home to the extent your income allows; access to the marital home; and having rights to children. It also relates to issues of ownership over assets.
- The difficult area is the question of status. Marriage is seen in the eyes of society as a serious commitment between two people regarding their relationship. No other formal societal recognition of relationships carries as much weight as does marriage. If you say you are married, people immediately know how serious and what status your relationship has. It will not hold for Civil Partnerships. Thus, even if Civil Partnerships could extend the same benefits, it does not have the same status.
- Civil Partnerships are definitely a step forward in extending legal protection to gay and lesbian people. However, it does not go far enough – it is not full marriage. Civil Partnerships for same sex partners will create two parallel institutions which does not constitute equal treatment.
- In its judgement, the Constitutional Court recognised that “intangible damage to same sex couples is as severe as the material deprivation” and “given the centrality of attributed to marriage and its consequences in our culture, to deny same sex couples a choice in this respect is to negate their right to self definition in a most profound way”.
- Discrimination affects the dignity and equality of gay and lesbian people. They have to negotiate being second class citizens, if they do not hide who they are because of fear of societal discrimination and stigmatisation. This goes against the values of dignity and equality in the South African Constitution.
- AS LGBT people, we call on Parliament to grant us the right to marry. We believe that Civil Partnerships do not unite South Africans but further classify us in groups marked by inequalities, inferiorities and superiorities. We call for a new gender neutral Marriage Act.
We suggest that you start circulating petitions among your gay-friendly colleagues, family, friends and even at your local bar, club or other social circle. You can download a Word version of the petition here, which you can print out and use.
Completed petitions should then be forwarded to OUT and will then be submitted as part of its public submissions. When a matter is open for public hearing and submission, related petitions must be submitted as part of that process.
Please fax petitions back to 012-3446501 or, if possible, please courier petitions to OUT, 745 Park Street, Arcadia, Pretoria. (If required, OUT will pay the courier costs.)
Time is of the essence, so start now!
The Civil Unions Bill is not expected to go before Parliament before 15 September and public hearings will not start before 18 September. OUT has asked that if there are any couples who would be willing to speak on their experience, as part of the campaign, to urgently contact it.
You can contact OUT at:
Tel: 012 344 5108 (tel)
Fax: 012 344 6501 (fax)
You can read the draft of the Civil Unions Bill here (PDF document).
Read more about Mambaonline’s take on the Civil Unions Bill here.