On November 14, 2006, the South African National Assembly voted 230-41 to approve the Civil Unions Bill, becoming the first African nation to recognize same-sex marriages. The legislation, without reference to gender, recognizes the "voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnized and registered by either a marriage or civil union." It also includes an opt-out clause, which allows officiants to refuse to perform a same-sex ceremony if it conflicts with his or her "conscience, religion and belief." The legislation came in response to a ruling by the Constitutional Court, finding the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
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Learn more about same-sex marriage from the JURIST news archive, and read commentary on the legislation's passage from JURIST Hotline.