Cape Town’s Triangle Project – one of the oldest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service organisation in Africa – says that it has taken note of a planned protest action to take place in Cape Town on Saturday, 16 September, by a right-wing, fundamentalist Christian group.

The protest is in response to Parliament’s considering legislation that will afford same-sex couples the legal status of marriage, in accordance with the Constitution.

In a statement released today, Triangle says that, “We assert that the gay and lesbian community’s quest for marriage is not a religious issue; this is purely a human rights matter. We want our relationships afforded the legal status of marriage, which is not a theological debate.”

The organisation goes on to say that, “It is outrageous that the government is wavering in their response to the Constitutional Court’s order that the current Marriage Act be amended so as to make it inclusive of same-sex relationships, through the tabling of the Civil Union Bill. This highly controversial proposal institutes the concept of ‘civil partnership’ specifically for same-sex couples and allegedly bestows the same legal rights on same-sex couples as the Marriage Act bestows on heterosexual couples.”

Triangle however believes that the proposed Bill is blatantly prejudiced against non-heterosexuals by excluding LGBT people from accessing the legal status of marriage via the Marriage Act. It claims that the bill is also in contravention of the order by the Constitutional Court, posing a potential constitutional crisis in South Africa.

“The proposed Bill sends out a very clear message that some South Africans are more equal than others and it perpetuates ongoing prejudice against an already marginalised sector of our community”, says Glenn de Swardt of Triangle Project. “It is reminiscent of the apartheid era when different race groups were forced to use separate entrances to government buildings. Heterosexuals can access marriage through the front door but gay and lesbian people can only access this legal right through a side entrance. This is totally unacceptable and makes a mockery of the Constitution.”

Since this is a human rights issue and not a religious one, Triangle Project says it has decided not to counter the protest action by a group of right-wing, fundamentalist Christians on Saturday.

“In effect, our challenge is with the government and not any religious group and we deem the proposed protest action to be inconsequential. The organisation will, however, have a strong presence during the ensuing process of public hearings addressing the Civil Unions Bill,” says the organisation.

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