What is a same-sex Marriage Officer?

by Apr 12, 2019

A Marriage Officer is a person that has been designated by Home Affairs to formalise weddings and register them with Home Affairs. This is governed by Marriage Act of 1961. In order to become officially certified and recognised by Home Affairs a person is required to study the marriage act and then pass an exam on their knowledge of the act.

Gay, Lesbian, Same Sex or just LGBT weddings have been legal in South Africa since 2006. This was the passage of the Civil Union Act in that year. As of early 2019 there are approximately 180 registered Civil Union Marriage Officers. The process to become a marriage officer under this law is exactly the same as with the marriage act. A person studies the act and take an exam to test their knowledge.  

A “same-sex Marriage Officer” is therefore one who has been appointed by Home Affairs under the Civil Union act. 

It is important to note that even though Civil Unions are often referred to as “same-sex”, heterosexual couples can also be married under this act. This union has all the same force in law as a marriage under the Marriage Act. There is no difference whatsoever. 

The truth of the matter is that it was easier to simply write a new law to formalise same sex marriages than it was to try and re-write or amend the existing Marriage Act. 


According to Statistics South Africa same sex marriage registrations comprise just 1% of all weddings. Having said that though, while the overall number of weddings have reduced since 2013 the overall number of Civil Unions have increased over the same time period. 

The numbers will only increase as more LGBT weddings take place where more people are exposed to them and it becomes a routine or a not unusual occurrence. 

In 2017 and 2018 we solemnized around 5% of all same sex weddings in the Gauteng province. We view this as a specialty and we take great pride celebrating weddings for people of all races, cultures, religions and orientation. Two people getting married is always a wonderful thing! 

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