The Domestic Violence Amendment Bill has been revised to reflect gender neutrality.
The bill’s gender-neutrality amendments were approved during a sitting of Parliament’s justice and correctional services portfolio committee on Tuesday.
The move will make this South Africa’s second gender-neutral Act after the Cybercrimes Act.
In the bill’s amendments, traditional pronouns such as “he”, “she”, “him” or “her” have been replaced by gender-neutral terms such as “they”, “them” or “their” where appropriate.
“Gender-neutral terms seek to include every person in society,” said Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services John Jeffery.
“A non-binary term is more inclusive because you don’t just have ‘he’ and ‘she’, you also have… intersex people or people who don’t identify as either. In the context of domestic violence, I think gender identity becomes very important,” said Jeffery.
Committee chairperson Gratitude Magwanishe said the language used in legislation was bound to evolve.
“I generally think that non-binary language is going to become a standard way of drafting legislation going forward,” said Magwanishe.
Magwanishe added that lots of investment was needed to ensure MPs and government officials were trained to write gender neutrally in the future.
The committee also approved an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act, which now reflects that the identity of an accused person, witness or victim under the age of 18, may not be revealed.
The bill, among others, aims to expand the scope of the National Registry of Sexual Offenders to include the particulars of all sex offenders and not only sex offenders against children and persons who are mentally disabled.
The Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill and Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence bills will now go to the National Assembly due to meet on Friday for approval.
If approved, the bills will be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for assent.