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Fairbrother disingenuous over civil unions

25 November 2004

Fairbrother disingenuous in relation to civil unions

United Future MP Gordon Copeland today strongly refuted Labour MP Russell Fairbrother’s claim that parallels exist between the Civil Union Bill proposed for New Zealand, and the Civil Partnerships Bill which received the Royal Assent in Britain on 18 November.

“In fact the position adopted in Britain and the New Zealand Civil Union Bill are completely different,” he said.

“The British legislation allows same sex couples to make a formal legal commitment to each other by entering into a civil partnership which then becomes a gateway to rights such as pension benefits, next of kin visiting rights in hospitals and the ability to gain parental responsibility for a partner’s children.

“By contrast, the Civil Union Bill in New Zealand has none of these features. They are (or will be) covered instead through the Care of Children Bill and the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill, and it is mischievous to pretend otherwise.

“It is precisely that reality that makes the NZ Civil Union Bill completely unnecessary. When Parliament is prepared to go to considerable lengths to ensure that all discrimination in terms of rights flowing from marriage is removed in relation even to non civil unioned same sex couples, why on earth do we need a Civil Union Bill?

“Even the Minister in charge of the bill, David Benson-Pope has admitted on radio that the Civil Union Bill itself confers no legal rights, over and above those which will be available to de facto same sex couples.

“I wish that the government was open and forthcoming about these realities. Rather, it continues a pattern of disinformation and spin which seems to have as its goal, not the disseminating of clear information to New Zealanders, but rather misinformation and confusion. It’s not good enough.


“I have spoken at public meetings literally from Auckland to Gore, and always begin by explaining to my audience the contents of the two quite separate and distinct bills. Once people understand that the discrimination issues will be taken care of through the Relationships Bill I have found little if any support for the idea of civil unions since it is then plain for all to see that the Bill’s goal is same sex marriage by a different name.

“My experience is that New Zealanders quickly realise that same sex marriage, even if it should become the law of the land, would be a legal fiction since the reality is anything but marital. I challenge the media to ensure that these important distinctions are made clear to New Zealanders.

“Until that happens, polling results are not worth the paper they are written on since they now simply reflect government’s success in confusing and indeed camouflaging the real issues.

“New Zealanders deserve better than that,” said Mr Copeland.

ENDS

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