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Civil Union Bills about removing discrimination

Mon, 23 Aug 2004

Civil Union Bills about removing discrimination

New Zealanders don't want members of their communities discriminated against because of their relationships.

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The Human Rights Commission's endorsement of the Civil Union and Relationships (Statutory References) Bills is a timely reminder that removing discrimination remains at the heart of this legislation, says the Associate Justice Minister.

David Benson-Pope says he welcomes the comments of the Commission who made a submission to Parliament's Justice and Electoral Select Committee today.

"What these new laws do is remove discrimination that potentially exposed the government to risks of complaint to the Human Rights Commission, cases before the Human Rights Review Tribunal and litigation," said Mr Benson-Pope.

"It also means that Parliament, rather than the judiciary, determines relationship law for New Zealand.

"We believe it is important to provide legal recognition to relationships - the vast majority of whom, some 330,000 New Zealanders, are different sex de facto couples, not gay couples, as groups critical of these Bills would have you believe.

"I do not think that ordinary New Zealanders want members of their communities discriminated against simply because of the nature of the relationship those people are in.

"The institution of marriage remains solely available to a man and a woman. But what these Bills create is legal recognition for those people who are unable to or do not wish to marry.

"It's about supporting those choices and respecting the rights of other New Zealanders," he said.

ENDS

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