I attended a meeting last week with the Department of Women to talk about some of the issues facing queer people in South Africa.
One of the overwhelming problems could be summed up in two words: Home Affairs.
Transgendered people seeking to have their names and gender changed on record struggle to get past conservative officials. One of the key speakers at the event had trouble getting into Parliament because the name and picture on her identification document didn’t match her identity as a transwoman.
Then, when people – more specifically, women in heteronormative marriages – don’t want their last names changed, Home Affairs officials do it anyway.
Now it looks like Home Affairs is making an effort to align with the Constitution.
The Department of Home Affairs is working on a complete overhaul of the current marriage policy for South Africa.
Speaking at an event at Constitutional Hill on Friday (30 August), minister of Home Affairs Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said that his department is scheduled to submit the proposed policy changes to cabinet in March 2021.
“We are starting a process to modernise our marriages laws to ensure that they adhere to the principles of the constitution, which enjoins us to ensure that the state does not unfairly discriminate against any citizen,” he said.
We currently have three laws that govern marriages in South Africa:
Motsoaledi notes that all of these laws discriminate against some people in SA.
The concerns raised include the following:
Current legislation does not cater to some religious marriages such as Hindu, Muslim, and certain customary marriages among African communities.
In their place a new, single marriage Act will enable South Africans of different sexual orientation, religious and cultural persuasions to conclude legal marriages that will accord with the constitutional principle of equality, he said.
Last September, following an application brought before the Western Cape High Court by the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC), the State was ordered to introduce legislation to recognise Muslim marriages as valid.
It’s unclear whether the overhaul of current marriage laws is connected to this in any way.
Whatever happens, a lot of the ‘inequality’ perpetrated at Home Affairs stems from officials discriminating against citizens whose beliefs and practices are different from their own.
Let’s hope they’re working on that, too.
[imagesource:here] By now, folks should know better than to post videos or pictures of ...
[imagesource: Shutterstock] Vaccines may be rolling out across the world, with varying ...
[imagesource: Shutterstock] When a mural appeared of a prisoner escaping from Reading P...
[imagesource: PUMA] Monday, March 8, is International Women's Day, which celebrates the...
[imagesource: BushBreaks] Just over a month ago, the Bongani Mountain Lodge, situated i...