The DA’s Shadow Minister of Home Affairs is set to question the government in Parliament on why gay couples who wish to marry have been turned away by Home Affairs in the Eastern Cape.
MP Manny de Freitas told Mambaonline of his frustration and anger at the “pure discrimination” that a Port Elizabeth gay couple recently faced when attempting to get married through the department.
Last week, Kevin de Lange (42) and Cobus Steyn (43), who planned to marry on 24 June, were turned away by Home Affairs officials who told them that they did not conduct same-sex marriage and referred them to a private marriage officer.
This was the third such reported incident in as many years in Port Elizabeth, and it is unclear if the problem is more widespread in the province or the rest of the country.
Under the Civil Union Act, Home Affairs marriage officers can apply to the minister to be exempted from conducting same-sex marriages, but the department must supply an alternative official in every office who will marry gay couples.
According to Lance Weyer, former Mr Gay South Africa and a DA Buffalo City Metro Council Member in the Eastern Cape, the DA’s then Shadow Minister, Annette Lovemore, submitted questions to the Home Affairs ministry via Parliament following one of the incidents in 2011.
“Senior management at Home Affairs [at the time] reaffirmed their responsibility to make sure that there is at least one Civil Union Act marriage officer in every Home Affairs office,” he said.
De Freitas told Mambaonline that the current situation “is unacceptable”. He said that he will be asking the minister of Home Affairs questions in Parliament on the issue, including requesting statistics on which Home Affairs offices do not have Civil Union marriage officers, as required by law.
“I will keep [the de Lange and Steyn case] for a statement which I will make in the House and to the Minister of Home Affairs, citing this example and asking why this is still allowed to continue,” said De Freitas.