Lecture Pieter Bakker

On Monday 28 May, South African professor Pieter Bakker, who works at the University of South Africa and the High Court of South Africa, gave a lecture at the Molengraaff Institute for Private Law. This lecture was entitled “Marriage pluralism in South Africa: Recognition of diversity or mire of confusion. In his lecture, he discussed a research paper. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 and the introduction of a Bill of Rights brought about numerous changes in family law in South Africa. In protecting diversity and recognising the plurality of the South African society, legislation was generated to protect diverse intimate relationships. Currently there are three forms of intimate relationships recognised by legislation in South Africa – the civil marriage, the customary marriage and the civil union. Piecemeal recognition has also been provided to religious marriages and domestic partnerships in legislation and court decisions. The paper investigates whether the existing legislation does truly protect diversity or whether a pluralistic approach merely creates confusion in its application.