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South Africa Civil Unions Bill

Philip Rosenthal [Director, ChristianView Network, South Africa]: "Today, 14 November 2006, the National Assembly debated and voted to pass the Civil Union Bill. The Bill is an insult to marriage and a trashing of democracy. It will open the door for more attacks on morality, religious freedom and children's rights. This is a day of shame for South Africa.

The revised Bill is a confusing piece of legislation which uses the term 'civil union' and 'marriage' interchangeably. It thus insults and undermines true marriage more seriously than the previous version of the Bill.

The African National Congress (ANC) took the unprecedented step of not only denying their MPs the right to conscientiously object and vote against the Bill, but also abstain or be absent from the vote. Thus the will of the democratic majority of South Africans has been trampled in favour of the views of eleven unelected and unaccountable judges on the Constitutional Court. A structure set up to protect democracy has been abused to undermine it. Despite the ANC instruction, many MPs did not attend the vote. The IFP and ACDP opposed the Bill, while the DA allowed a free vote.

The fight on this issue is not over. To be implemented, the Bill will still need to go to the National Council of Provinces and be signed by the president. An alternative Constitutional Marriage Amendment by ACDP MP Steve Swart, is currently being considered by the Portfolio Committee on Private Members Bills. Thousands of people have signed petitions in support of this amendment. The campaign will continue."

Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.

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