Controversial marriage legislation tabled in Parliament

The clock started running last year when the Constitutional Court ruled that the Marriage Act is unconstitutional and that Parliament had a year to reform the legislation governing civil unions to enable gay people to marry.  A draft bill called the Civil Unions Bill has been tabled before Parliament and has sparked quite a controversy.  Religious groups are outraged at the proposed legislation and there have been calls to retain the concept of marriage as a "voluntary union between one man and one woman" and rather pass new legislation enabling same-sex marriage and alternative civil unions.

As I understand the Bill, it does not specifically create a category of union for same-sex couples but rather enables people to come together in a recognised civil union that is not marriage.  According to IOL:

The Cabinet announced on Thursday it has approved a bill that will recognise domestic partnerships between adults who choose not to conclude a marriage or civil partnership, and this includes same-sex partnerships.

This change has been long overdue and the passing of this legislation will mark an important shift towards greater equality between people who choose to or are able to marry and those who do not.  Of course it is a tremendously important piece of legislation for the gay community which has generally been treated as a community of second class citizens.

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