In an important step, the ruling African National Congress party, which holds the majority of seats in South Africa’s parliament, and the government, have issued official statements on Wednesday’s ruling by the Constitutional Court that same-sex marriages must be legalised within the next twelve months.

In a statement, the government says that it has noted and respects the ruling by the Constitutional Court that the Marriage Act should be amended to make provision for same-sex unions.

“The ANC reaffirms its view that citizens should not be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation and that the constitution, legal system and institutions of state have a responsibility to uphold that basic human right. Today’s ruling, like other before it, is an important step forward in aligning the laws of the country with the rights and freedoms contained in the South African constitution,” the ANC statement reads.

In addition, Government spokesperson Joel Netshitenze has said that, “The Department of Home Affairs will assess what practical steps will be needed to give effect to the change in the law and make appropriate recommendations to the minister”.

Rhema Church pastor Ray McCauley has come out against the ruling, arguing that it undermines “marriage, as we know it and the cherished formation of healthy, loving families. We do not agree with ‘gay-bashing’, but cannot agree with the lifestyle as it is contrary to our Christian beliefs.”

Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane called the ruling a carefully considered judgment weighing up competing rights in the light of the South African Constitution. “This ruling does not compel any religious denomination or minister of religion to approve or perform same-sex marriages, therefore it should not cause alarm,” he said.

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