Gay rights organisations and some political parties are calling for an amendment to legislation allowing marriage officers at Home Affairs to refuse to officiate gay marriages.
Of the 1131 marriage officers at Home Affairs offices, 421 have been exempted from performing civil unions.
Cope MP Deidre Carter said the issue had come to their attention and they felt they needed to have it addressed. The party lodged a private member’s bill seeking to amend the Civil Union Act.
The bill aims to repeal section 6 of the Civil Union Act 17 of 2006, which allows a marriage officer in the employ of the state to inform the minister of home affairs that he or she objects on the grounds of conscience, religion and belief to solemnising a civil union between people of the same sex – and to be exempted from officiating.
Carter said same-sex couples seeking the services of a marriage office were being turned away from some Home Affairs offices, particularly in rural areas, as all the marriage officers at those offices had been exempted.
This was unconstitutional, she said, as the constitution said public service must be provided “impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias”.
Home Affairs did not respond to calls for comment.