Same-sex couples receive more rights as NCOP passes Civil Union Bill

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The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) at its sitting on Wednesday morning, July 1, passed a number of bills. The most notable of these are the Cybercrimes Bill and The Civil Union Amendment Bill.

The NCOP passed the Civil Union Amendment Bill, which was referred to the Select Committee on Security after its revival in 2019. By passing the Bill, the NCOP has given same-sex couples more rights when planning their marriage.

The NCOP explains the purpose of the Civil Union Bill is to repeal section 6 of the Civil Union Act of 2006.

This allowed a marriage officer to inform the Minister that he or she objects on the ground of conscience, religion, and belief to solemnising a civil union between persons of the same sex.

This Bill proved to be a prickly subject. According to the NCOP, during the vigorous processing of the Bill, the Select Committee received a total of 325 submissions. These submissions stemmed from organisations and individuals, who were either in favour or against the amendment Bill.

“The Committee also considered Section 195 (1) of the Constitution, which provides that public administration must be governed by the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution, including in subsection (d) that services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias,” the NCOP said.

Furthermore, the Committee noted that Section 197(3) of the Constitution provides that no employee of the public service may be favoured or prejudiced, because a person supports a particular political party or cause.

“The Committee agreed that the repeal of Section 6 of the Civil Union Act, 2006 was important in advancing equality and upholding the Constitutional rights afforded to persons entering into same sex unions,” the NCOP emphasised.

Read more: Is Newcastle gay-friendly or homophobic?

While same-sex couples now have more rights, people will need to be more cautious when using social media with the passing of the Cybercrimes Bill.

Initially introduced in 2017, the Cybercrimes Bill’s focuses on enhancing South Africa’s cybersecurity laws. This means that the Bill will focus on certain objectives.

These objectives of the Bill are:

  • To create offences and impose penalties which have a bearing on cybercrime.
  • Criminalise the distribution of data messages which are harmful and to provide for interim protection orders.
  • To further regulate jurisdiction in respect of cybercrimes.

The Bill further aims to regulate the powers to investigate cybercrimes. As well as to further regulate aspects relating to mutual assistance in respect of the investigation of cybercrimes. As well as to provide for the establishment of a 24/7 point of contact.

Furthermore, the bill also imposes obligations on electronic communications service providers and financial institutions to assist in the investigation of cybercrimes. It also provides that the executive may enter into agreements with foreign states to promote cybersecurity.

What are your thoughts on the two Bills which have bee passed? Share your thoughts and views with us in the comment section below.

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