Out: Equal or Other?

It's time for parliament to act decisively on same-sex marriage

October 18, 2006

PRETORIA — The last two days of parliamentary hearings on the Civil Union Bill have posed a stark choice for Parliament: Does it move South Africa forward into an era which respects human dignity, equality and freedom? Or, does it continue to perpetuate values that seek to discriminate, stigmatize and dehumanize?

What was evident from the hearings in Parliament this week was that the Civil Union Bill had satisfied no-one. A number of right-wing Christian groups showed their lack of understanding of the separation between religion and state. Fikile Vilikazi of OUT LGBT Well-being said that: "it was evident that many religious groups have failed to transform their mindset towards a free, diverse and democratic South Africa. This is deeply disappointing."

Whilst affirming their commitment to their own doctrines, the South African Council of Churches and the Dutch Reformed Church took the bold step asserting in forceful terms their support for the concrete realization of equality and dignity for lesbian and gay people. Melanie Judge of OUT LGBT Well-being stated that "these churches are demonstrating how the spheres of religion and rights can co-exist in a pluralistic society".

A range of progressive voices at the hearings – including the SA Human Rights Commission, Women's Legal Centre, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, various religious groupings and the organized lesbian and gay sector – asserted that the Civil Union Bill fails to comply with Constitutional values. The Bill seeks to establish institutional segregation in our law and thus undermines the very character of a tolerant and respectful society that we seek to create in South Africa.

We call on Parliament to act decisively, to reject a false compromise and to deepen equality in a meaningful way for all in society by allowing gay and lesbian people the right to marry. – Issued by OUT LGBT Well-being

OUT LGBT Well-being
For more information contact:
Melanie Judge
Programme Manager
OUT LGBT Well-being Tel: 012 3445108
Fax: 012 3446501
Cell: 083 2712543
Email: programmes@out.org.za



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