The Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) and the South African Council of Churches (SACC) have told Parliament that they support same-sex marriages and that these should have the same status as heterosexual unions.
The DRC says there should be one marriage law for all, and supports the amendment of the existing marriage act to accommodate same-sex marriage. While it supports the concept of civil gay marriage it believes that in Christian terms marriage is between a man and a woman and does not plan to bless gay unions.
The statement came on the last day of public submissions in Parliament on the controversial Civil Union Bill. The position is in stark contrast to the majority of religious groups – including the Catholic Church – which have opposed same-sex marriage. The Dutch Reformed Church was once seen as one of the most conservative churches in South Africa.
LGBT group OUT has applauded the DRC and SACC’s statements, saying that “these churches are demonstrating how the spheres of religion and rights can co-exist in a pluralistic society”.
OUT says that it is evident from the hearings in Parliament that the Civil Union Bill had satisfied no-one, adding that “a number of right-wing Christian groups showed their lack of understanding of the separation between religion and state.”
Fikile Vilikazi, of OUT, said that, “it was evident that many religious groups have failed to transform their mindset towards a free, diverse and democratic South Africa. This is deeply disappointing.”
The SA Human Rights Commission, Women’s Legal Centre, Centre for Applied Legal Studies and the organised lesbian and gay sector have asserted that the Civil Union Bill fails to comply with Constitutional values.