Gay Indian couple Muhammad Buckus and Kyle Pillay are over the moon after finalizing their same-sex union at the Empangeni Home Affairs office on Thursday, 8 October. This after being given the ‘runaround’ with the Department of Home Affairs for over a year to have their Civil Union marriage registered.
The couple has repeatedly made attempts to book a date with the Home Affairs office however were given excuses at every turn. Initially, they were advised that there was no marriage officer. Then they were given an email address for one but she responded that there were no dates available until the following year.
In September 2019, the same-sex couple exchanged vows at a Hindu temple in Richards Bay surrounded by close friends. Soon after their traditional Hindu ceremony, they relocated to Pietermaritzburg and had begun to seek a booking date with the local Home Affairs department.
With every attempt made to find a booking date, the couple seemed were at a loss after being given every excuse possible by officials, to not make their Civil Union happen.
“On one of our visits, an official tipped us off that they would never perform the marriage there ‘because they are Christians who have staunch beliefs but they will never tell you that to your faces’,” said Buckus.
Frustrated with the outcomes from Home Affairs officials, the couple sought help from LGBT advocacy and support group Gay and Lesbian Network (GLN) in Pietermaritzburg. The non-profit LGBT organisation contacted the Home Affairs area manager in hopes of helping the couple with their predicament. Efforts to source a private Civil Union marriage officer in Richards Bay was made but to no avail. The couple eventually reached out to South African news source GroundUp who queried the issue with the Home Affairs department.
Much to their surprise, Pillay and Buckus were booked for an appointment for 10 am on Thursday, 8 October after Ground Up’s media query into the situation. The couple finally made their union official at the Empangeni Home Affairs branch last week Thursday.
After their legal ceremony on Thursday, Buckus said: “We are relieved…The marriage officer was very kind to us. The only glitch was the issue of changing surnames. The system picked up that it was two men and wouldn’t allow it. So we just left our surnames as is,” he said.
The couple added they intend celebrating their official union with close friends and family.
“We feel we [are now] part of the country and citizens to legally have our marriage recognised. We are relieved that the frustration is over,” said Buckus.
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