Polyamory, polyandry remain hot topics as discussion on new marriage proposals wraps up
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Cape Town - Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsolaledi has said the main purpose of the hotly debated green paper on marriage was to start a national dialogue.
Wrapping up public comment on the issue at a national colloquium on the marriage policy, Motsoaledi said: “Since we gazetted it on May 4, the green paper has sparked a lot of debate causing most of us to confront long-standing beliefs, sometimes in an uncomfortable manner.”
The proposals contained in the green paper include the recognition of marriages conducted according to Muslim, Hindu and Jewish rites, as well as a proposal to review who can solemnise marriages.
“The proposed marriage policy must aim to eradicate all forms of discrimination, and uphold the constitutional obligations in pursuit of equality in various communities that have been sidelined or prejudiced,” said Motsoaledi.
The department will now start the process of consolidating all the proposals received from citizens into a white paper which sets out proposals for legislative changes.
"We will now begin the process of consolidating all the proposals we have received from citizens into a white paper which sets out proposals for legislative changes or the introduction of new laws.”
He said that South Africa needs a new marriage policy based on three of the pillars of its Constitution, equality, non-discrimination and human dignity was “incontestible”.
Religious organisations rallied supporters to submit their objections to polyandry, the most controversial proposal in the green paper.
Freedom of Religion South Africa spokesperson Nadene Badenhorst said: “From a religious freedom point of view, we are concerned that the draft marriage policy will potentially force religious marriage officers of whatever faith to solemnise marriages which are contrary to their religious convictions and beliefs.”
Polyamory South Africa spokesperson Erich Viedge said the organisation was dismayed and disappointed in the judgemental nature of the religious community.
“We are not telling them how to live their lives, so could they please leave us alone to love and marry the people we want to love and marry. Many of the polyamorous community are bisexual or gay or queer, and one of the big advantages of the policies proposed in the green paper is that finally we can marry the people we’re in love with.”
LGBTIAQ+ identities and communities researcher Nyx McLean said: “What is being proposed is a significant move towards equality for all genders. Opting for a gender neutral option is not only inclusive of men and women but also the vast array of gender identities that exist.”
GenderWorks project co-ordinator and gender and religious practitioner Laurie Gaum said: “The truth is, some relationships are complex and often don't fit traditional categories set out for them. This dialogue offers an opportunity for more honesty about what the relationships we find ourselves in entail and what would promote the greatest equality in organising them.”