South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has passed into law the Civil Union Amendment Bill which will prevent officiating officers from refusing to conduct same-sex marriages, and will change the lives of LGBT South Africans who constantly have to fight battles with a society that has not aligned itself with South Africa’s progressive legislation, according to reports by Okay Africa.

According to the reports, the Legislation stated that Home Affairs Minister, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi must ensure there is a marriage officer available to solemnize a civil union at every office. It added that the bill was a positive step toward eliminating existing differentiation between marriages and civil union partnerships, reducing discrimination against same-sex relationships, and achieving equality for same-sex couples in South Africa.

riginally, officiating officers had the right to refuse marrying same-sex couples on the grounds of conscience, religion, and belief. This clause reportedly prevented South African LGBT couples from getting married as many Home Affairs marriage officers would then exempt themselves from marrying LGBT couples.

Responses on Twitter have been mixed with LGBT members welcoming the news while some South Africans have commented that the amendment infringes on their basic human rights. Understandably, there is still considerable contention when it comes to same-sex marriages being called “civil unions” instead of “marriages” in the heteronormative sense.

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