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Parliament feels the love on marriage bill day

Aug 29th, 2012 | By | Category: Latest News, News

ABOUT 1000 supporters dwarfed a handful of people against the Marriage Amendment Bill at a rally at Parliament today.

Supporters carried colourful placards, waved rainbow flags and chanted loudly throught Wellington to Parliament.

When they got there they met representatives of Korean churches from Auckland, who stood to one side holding placards, and singing hymns.

Supporters cheered enthusiastically as they were addressed by MPs Louisa Wall, Tau Henare and Kevin Hague, along with St Andrew’s on the Terrace Minister Rev Dr Margaret Mayman and her partner Claire Brockett.

In her speech, Ms Wall described New Zealand, as a rainbow nation and urged those against “not to fear what this Bill will do.”

Mr Hague asserted the Bill harms absolutely nobody and hoped New Zealand First, the one party which did not back the Bill, would eventually change their mind.

Ms Brockett spoke specifically to religious communities who opposed the Bill and said that, as a society of many different faiths, no one religious voice could speak for all New Zealanders.

“We support the Bill not in spite of our faith, but because of it,” she said.

“Marriage equality is not something to fear, but to bless and celebrate.”

Newswire spoke with several people at the rally, many of whom strongly supported marriage equality, stating that marriage is a basic human right that should be given to everyone.

“I have lots of gay friends and my brother is gay, and I want to go his wedding someday,” said student Julia Hunn, pictured (at left) with Brody Packer.

Georgia Steel said gay and lesbian people should be able to marry who they want to and that “a civil union is not the same.”

Juliana Venning she wanted her daughter’s dream of marriage to come true.

“I’m totally in favour of it. NZ led the world in women’s voting rights, after all,” she said.

“There should be one law for all. Marriage existed long before churches and we need to claim it back.”

There were many lobby groups that attended the rally, including Legalise Love and Queer Avengers.

Prior to the rally, Tabby Besley of Legalise Love said the group’s primary focus is on marriage and adoption equality.

“While we definitely don’t think that the inequality around queer issues will be solved, this bill is an important first step.

“It’s exciting to see New Zealanders support marriage equality, and we’re really proud of the MPs who have embraced it.”

Queer Avengers spokesperson Sara Fraser admitted that there were varied opinions about marriage within the group, but on the whole they were very supportive of the bill.

The Korean church representatives, who stood with a small group of supporters, responded peacefully to the rally supporters, but firmly told Newswire they opposed the Bill for “religious reasons”.

They said while they love New Zealand, they would not want to remain living here if the bill were to pass.

“Gay marriage is unnatural. It can’t make a family, and can’t keep our generation going,” said one Korean pastor, who did not wish to be named.

“God intended for men and women to have babies.”

They and their supporters carried signs saying, “One man. One woman. That’s true marriage”, “Don’t break the definition of marriage,” and a child deserves their birthright.”

From flogging and whipping to marriage in 109 years

IN THE space of 109 years, New Zealand has gone from laws for flogging and whipping homosexuals to being on the verge of allowing them to marry.

In fact homosexuals could have been whipped, flogged and sentenced to hard labour up to 1961.

In the crimes against morality section of the 1893 Criminal Code, the punishment for homosexual acts was flogging, whipping and hard labour.

This was reformed in 1961 with the Crimes Act, although it only removed the term of life imprisonment.

All legal sanctions for homosexual activity remained.

Sexual activity between women was not illegal, but the social discrimination still existed.

In 1967, 150 people attended a public meeting in Wellington and formed a society to work for homosexual law reform, called the Wolfenden Association.

It soon became the New Zealand Homosexual Law Reform Society.

Former governor-general Lord Cobham was invited to become patron, but declined.

‘These people are mentally sick to as great an extent as, for example, people suffering from smallpox are sick. The whole problem of legalizing this offence seems to me to hinge upon the extent to which the disease is contagious,” he said in a letter to social secretary Jack Goodwin.

In 1974, Member of Parliament Venn Young introduced a Crimes Amendment Bill to legalise private homosexual acts between consenting adults, with a proposed age of consent of 21.

The New Zealand Homosexual Law Reform Society and other gay liberation groups made submissions on the bill.

They argued that the age of consent should be 16, the same as for heterosexuals, and that more emphasis should have been out on consent to activities rather than to the nature of the acts.

In 1985, MP Fran Wilde consulted with gay groups and developed a private members bill.

The Homosexual Law Reform Bill was introduced to the House of Representatives on March 8, 1985.

The first half of the bill dealt with the decriminalisation of sexual offences between men as well as decriminalisation of consensual heterosexual anal intercourse, and providing protection for minors.

The second half would make it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation in the areas of employment, accommodation and the supply of goods and services.

MP Norman Jones attended a public meeting in 1985 on the subject.

“Turn around and look at them. Gaze upon them. You’re looking into Hades . Don’t look too long – you might catch AIDS,” he said

In 1986, the Homosexual law reform Act was passed by 49 votes to 44.

It decriminalised sexual relations between men aged over 16.

It wasn’t until 1993 with the Human Rights Act that it became illegal to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.

In 1996, the New Zealand High Court ruled that common law marriage can mean mixed coupled, but that any change would be for parliament to make.

Minister of Justice, Doug Graham, declined to make that change.

In 1997, the Court if Appeal turned down three lesbian couples’ appeal for same-sex marriage.

In 1998, the Defacto Property Bill was introduced, which regularised disposal of property on separation or death of unmarried heterosexual couples.

An amendment had to be made including same-sex couples.

In 2004, the Civil Union Bill was passed.

This gave same-sex couples formal recognition of their relationships.

The campaign for marriage has regained strength because gays say they don’t like the term civil union, it doesn’t carry the same weight or value as the term marriage.

Another reason for marriage rather than civil union is the 1955 Adoption Act.

The act states an adoption can be made by a married couple, but not by a civil unioned couple.

The spouse of the mother or father of the child can also adopt the child under the Act.

Civil union partners cannot adopt children together, and a single male cannot adopt a female unless he is the father.

If the marriage equality bill is passed then this will change as the word used in the Adoption Act is spouse.

Once the act is passed, people that have a civil union can still get married to each other.

For further information:

Chronology of gay history in NZ:

More information about gay rights history: governtment civil union bill

Reporting by: Erin Kavanagh-Hall, Vomle Springford, Isileli Sau, Natasha Thyne, Melissa Wastney, Megan Smyth and James Paul.















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