Same-sex bill puts all in a spin

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

Tempers flared at the start of deliberations on the controversial same-sex marriage law at a committee meeting of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in Cape Town this week.

The December 1 deadline, set by the constitutional court, by which the government must amend its same-sex unions bill to conform with the constitution, is fast approaching.

ANC MPs yesterday were forced to defend their support for the bill in the face of criticism from opposition party MPs.

Last week the ANC was the only party in the national assembly that voted for the bill, which has caused division and anger throughout the country.

Yesterday members of the NCOP's select committee on social services were given a briefing on the bill.

The committee faces a tight deadline and will hold public hearings on Thursday and Friday. It will vote on the proposed law on Monday.

Four days will then remain for President Thabo Mbeki to sign the bill into law.

At one stage, the IFP's Ntombizodwa Vilakazi demanded to be told why the bill had been approved by the national assembly when it had been rejected by the majority of the people of the nine provinces in public hearings.

Other opposition MPs also asked tough questions of lawyers from the departments of Home Affairs and of Justice, and from the State Law Advisor's office.

There was laughter when Vilakazi asked who would be the husband and who the wife in a same-sex union.