South Africa’s parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a bill allowing gay marriage.The South African national assembly passed the landmark Civil Union bill by 230 votes to 41 on Tuesday after majority party the African National Congress instructed all its MPs to support the legislation, BBC News reported.The law is expected to take effect later this month. It will make South Africa the fifth country to allow same-sex marriage and the first African nation to do so.Gay couples can already wed in Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada and Spain.The Civil Union bill allows for the voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnised and registered by either a marriage or civil union.Some gay activists are disappointed the law would enable officials to not conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies if they were against their conscience, religion and belief.But other activists hailed the law as a major step forward for gay men and lesbians.

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