Following the adoption of The Civil Unions Act 17 of 2006 (“Act”) which applies from the 30th November 2006, South Africa became one of a small group of Countries to recognise and confer legal protection and marital benefits between same sex partners.
The purpose of this Act is to provide for the formalisation of Civil Unions in terms of either a marriage or a civil partnership with subsequent legal consequences of Civil Unions.
The objectives of the Act is the regulation of the solemnisation and registrations process of Civil Unions, in terms of a marriage or a civil partnership and to provide for the legal consequences of the solemnisation and registration of Civil Union.
This Act applies to Civil Union partners joint in a Civil Union and subject to this Act, a designated Marriage Officer has all the powers, responsibilities and duties as conferred upon him or her under the Marriage Act, to solemnise a Civil Union. It should be noted that a Marriage Officer cannot be compelled to solemnise a Civil Union.
No Marriage Officer may solemnise a Civil Union unless both parties produce either their identity documents or the prescribed affidavit.
The legal consequences of a marriage contemplated in the Marriage Act apply, with such changes as may be required by the context, to a Civil Union. With the exception of the Marriage Act and the Customary Marriages Act, any reference to: - a marriage in any other law, including the common law, includes, with such changes as may be required by the context, a Civil Union; and the husband, wife or spouse in any other law, including the common law, includes a civil union partner.