Anger over new Marriages Bill, Christians warn of dire consequences

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By Anna Chibamu

A grouping of Christian leaders have come out guns blazing demanding the removal of a proposal to allow “civil partnerships” in the Marriages Bill currently at the consultative stage.

The National Elders Forum (NEF) meeting in Harare this week demanded that the clause allowing people in civil unions to have other relationship be removed or the Bill be dumped altogether arguing it has opened the door “open homosexuality.”

“The old legal system has been protecting the woman and the husband. Why can we not continue with what we have for now? That will bring a lot of problems. In this Bill like same sex marriages. Doors have been opened. Why can we not talk of wife and husband? You can see where we are going. We are encouraging homosexuality besides other sections of the Constitution.

“As Christians, we will fight hard to stop this Bill from sailing through. We will not sit down. We will lobby with other religious and traditional leaders to make sure the clauses in question are removed from the Bill,” the NEF’s Reverend Felix Mukonowengwe said.

Caleb Mutandwa, a lawyer who was assisting the NEF analyse the Bill that is supposed to replace the Marriages Act after being merged with the Customary Marriages Act told on the sidelines of the meeting that there is palpable anger around the proposed law.

Part of the offending clause reads: “A person already in a civil marriage, a monogamous marriage; a marriage that can only accommodate one woman, one husband or one wife; that same person can go ahead and have another civil partnership with another person.”

Mutandwa said this part of the proposed law has been met with revulsion especially by Christians.

“People found this to be very offensive, repulsive and something that should be removed from the Bill. People are prepared of throwing away the whole Bill because of that clause and feel that it must be attended to.

“The church leaders and elders who are largely Christians want things like gupuro (a token to prove divorce from the husband to wife’s family in the form of money-coin) to be included in the Bill,” said Mutandwa.

“How does one terminate unregistered customary law union? Those must be included. People are concerned with voidable marriages such as same sex marriages. Are we clear that we do not accept same sex marriages?”