Four Christian churches in South Africa have said they will not bless same-sex marriages because they say they are “contrary to scripture.”

The Anglican Church, Catholic Church, Baptist Church and Presbyterian Church have all confirmed that they will not officiate or bless gay unions.

The Methodist Church is still undecided on the issue.

Same-sex unions are legal in South Africa, but the Civil Union Act allows for a religious institution to opt out by submitting a letter to the government explaining why.

Bishop David Beetge, dean of the Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa told the Cape Argus:

“We have informed the government that we are not in a position to bless civil unions and have made it open and clear to the government and our congregation about our policy.”

The Rev Brian Wood of the Cape Town Baptist Church said: “Everybody is welcome at the church irrespective of their background or creed.

“However, on the topic of gay marriages, we cannot condone it, as God has sanctioned marriage as a heterosexual relationship between a natural man and a natural woman.”

Last year South Africa made history as the first country in Africa, and only the fifth in the world to legalise same-sex marriages.

The Bill was opposed by many Christian groups in and outside of the country.

Homosexuality is still illegal in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana and most other sub-Saharan countries, making the decision even more controversial.

Other countries that allow gay marriages are Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain.