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Minister welcomes Civil Union report

29 November, 2004

Minister welcomes Civil Union report which confirms marriage only for a man and a woman in NZ

The report back of the all-party Justice and Electoral Select Committee considering the Civil Union Bill has been welcomed by the Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope notes, that in line with Government policy, the select committee has recommended where same-sex couples are allowed to marry in some overseas countries, they will not have that relationship recognised as a marriage in New Zealand.

Mr Benson-Pope says the select committee has quite sensibly recommended changes to the legislation so that overseas civil union-type arrangements will be recognised here. However, that reciprocity will not apply to overseas same-sex marriages, which will not be recognised as marriage here.

Instead, where an overseas jurisdiction allows same-sex marriage, unlike New Zealand, that can only be recognised as a civil union here. This ensures that marriage in New Zealand remains solely available to a man and a woman – one of the stated goals of the Civil Union legislation. "The Select Committee has decided there are good reasons for recognising overseas relationships as civil unions, as long as they meet certain requirements," said Mr Benson-Pope. "But the recommended changes make it quite clear that in New Zealand same-sex couples will have access only to civil unions. So-called overseas "gay marriages" will not be recognised as a marriage here."

Mr Benson-Pope pointed out that New Zealanders are great travellers, so as we recognise other countries' civil unions, and like arrangements, so we hope they will recognise ours.

The British House of Commons recently passed legislation allowing same-sex couples to enter into a civil partnership, they will then have same legal rights and responsibilities as married couples. Over 9,000 New Zealanders gain visas for the United Kingdom each year.

Civil union-type arrangements are now relatively common among European countries and such arrangements can also be found in countries including Canada and the United States.


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