By Hilary White

  PRETORIA, November 28, 2006 ( – South Africa’s National Council of Provinces has voted to support the Civil Union Bill that will make homosexual liaisons the equivalent of marriage. The bill was passed earlier this month in the National Assembly.

  Should President Thabo Mbeki sign the bill into law, South Africa will become the first in the continent to have legalized homosexual unions.

  The bill followed a 2004 decision from South Africa’s Constitutional Court. The court ruled that the current definition of marriage was discriminatory against homosexuals under the country’s Constitution, called by Reuters “one of the most liberal in the world.”

  The bill will change the marriage definition to a “voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnised and registered by either a marriage or civil union.” The Court warned that if the country’s parliament did not take action, the law would be changed automatically.

  The ruling African National Congress (ANC) put the bill forward despite what Reuter’s news agency called “serious reservations” among some of the party’s most senior members. 

  Public opposition is also strong with nearly 80 per cent of South Africa’s population being Christian.

  Read previous coverage:
  As South Africa Approves Homosexual ‘Marriage’ , Tanzania Reaffirms Stand for Traditional Marriage