The government has new plans to consolidate the country’s existing marriage policy, which will legally recognise a variety of nuptials.
It will also look at banning teenage marriages and introducing stricter rules for marrying foreigners.
The Department of Home Affairs is consulting with different stakeholders before drafting what Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says should be an inclusive marriage regime based on equality, non-discrimination and dignity.
Three different pieces of legislation govern legal unions in South Africa: the Marriage Act of 1961 for monogamous, opposite-sex marriages, the Customary Marriage Act of 1998 that recognises polygamy, as well as the Civil Union Act of 2006 for monogamous partnership for same-sex or opposite-sex couples. Muslim, Hindu and Jewish marriages are still not recognised under any of these laws.
“The reason we want to change the current marriage policy is because it is wrong and it is not working for South Africans,” said Motsoaledi.
“And none of the three recognise Muslim, Hindu or Jewish marriages or the marriages in traditional royal families. We can’t go on excluding so many people. Any citizen who takes us to court based on the mentioned gaps wins, so we were instructed by the courts to change the laws.”
Motsoaledi was speaking at a consultative meeting with religious and traditional leaders in Cape Town this week concerning what a new marriage policy could mean for different sectors.