Quote of the week

An ‘important purpose of section 34 [of the Constitution] is to guarantee the protection of the judicial process to persons who have disputes that can be resolved by law’ and that the right of access to court is ‘foundational to the stability of an orderly society. It ensures the peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes, without resorting to self-help. The right of access to court is a bulwark against vigilantism, and the chaos and anarchy which it causes. Construed in this context of the rule of law and the principle against self-help in particular, access to court is indeed of cardinal importance’.The right guaranteed s34 would be rendered meaningless if court orders could be ignored with impunity:the underlying purposes of the right — and particularly that of avoidance of self-help — would be undermined if litigants could decide which orders they wished to obey and which they wished to ignore.

Plasket AJ
Victoria Park Ratepayers' Association v Greyvenouw CC and others (511/03) [2003] ZAECHC 19 (11 April 2003)
10 November 2006

Weird Civil Union compromise

The compromise Civil Union Bill, devised by the ANC study group and approved by the Home Affairs Porfolio Committee yesterday, is a weird piece of legislation. It creates a Civil Union open to anyone which can be “registered by way of either marriage or a civil partnership”.

This means that heterosexuals will be able to get married either via the Marraige Act or the Civil Union Bill while homosexuals can only get married via th elatter legislation. But for anyone who, for some bizarre reason or another, wishes not to get married but to conclude a civil partnership only, the Civil Union Bill will be the only legislation that one could rely on.

Obviously those in the ANC who wanted to adhere to the Constitutional Court judgement and who understood that anything less than marriage for same-sex couples would not do, managed to convince the Johnny De Lange’s of the world to explicitly provide for “marriage” in the Bill. But in return they had to the ridiculous option of either registering a civil partnership or a marriage.

How many people will actually register a civil partnership instead of a marriage? Can’t imagine who would do such a thing.

But perhaps the new version will pass constitutional muster because it does provide for same-sex marriage, albeit in a seperate law. But because the law is open to all – not just same-sex couples, and because it allows same-sex couples to register a marriage, it probably provide for the protection of same-sex relationship in a sufficient manner.

Section 6, however, is most probably unconstitututional. It allows non-religious marraige officers from refusing to solmnisise a marriage for religious reasons. Poor same-sex couples in small conservative towns will find it difficult to get anyone to marry them. Surely its not acceptable.

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