same-sex marriage in South Africa

Globally, every nation is trying to recognise and protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Some are in consideration, while others have taken revolutionary steps. In this adoption, South Africa is one of the initial names which has taken steps to legalise it. South Africa is the fifth country in the world and the first country in Africa to legalise same-sex marriage. 

Keep reading to know more about laws and rules around same-sex marriages in South Africa.

The Legalisation of Same-Sex Marriage

The monumental legalisation of the same marriage was done in 2006. It’s called the Civil Union Act (Act 17 of 2006).

In this act, a person may marry under one of these conditions opposite-sex and same-sex civil marriages, religious marriages and civil partnerships. 

Moreover, the court stated that not providing same-marriage rights to same-sex couples is unconstitutional and discriminatory. So, the Marriage Act of 1961 amendment considers all couples, regardless of gender.

Amendment in Union Act (Act 17 of 2006)

In the Civil Union Act No. 17 of 2006, the marriage officer could inform the Home Affairs Minister of his issues for officiating the marriage due to conscience, religion or faith. 

But, the amendment of The Civil Union Amendment Act No. 8 of 2020 prohibits the marriage officers or Magistrates from stopping solemnising the marriage on the grounds of some personal beliefs. If the marriage fulfils all the legal duties, the officials are supposed to solemnise it like any other wedding. 

Solemnisation Rules

Here are some solemnisation rules that must be followed during the marriage:

●      The marriage must be solemnised in the presence of an authorised marriage officer. 

●      Also, Government officials, mainly magistrates and Home Affairs civil servants appointed under the Marriage Act, can solemnise the marriage under Civil Union Amendment Act No. 8 of 2020. 

●      The Home Affairs Minister must ensure that a marriage officer is present to solemnise a civil union at every office. 

The amended bills say that the Department of Home Affairs will receive a transitional period of 24 months in which they will train the marriage officials who have previously been mentioned as an exception. 

These rules are to ensure that there is no discrimination and to turn away from the decision of same-sex couple marriage.

Adoption Rules

As the court and government have accepted and extended to provide equal rights to same-sex couples, the rules are the same regarding adopting. Therefore, the Children’s Act 2005 does not prohibit gay or lesbian adoptions.

The couple can adopt children jointly by: 

●      a husband and wife

●      partners in a permanent domestic life-partnership

●      other persons sharing a common household and forming a permanent family unit

The Future Ahead

The court and government are taking proactive steps to ensure equality for same-sex couples, whether it’s marriage proceedings, adoption or other family rights. The concerned bodies are adopting a legal framework to welcome inclusivity. Yes, there are some hurdles and time for overall acceptance, but the country is attempting to overcome them and set an example for other nations.

To know more about it, contact the family lawyers near me, to get help with professional guidance related to all laws and legalities. 


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