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"Civil Relationships Bill” - a better option

“Civil Relationships Bill” - a better option than civil unions

National’s Justice spokesman, Richard Worth, has introduced an amendment to the Civil Union Bill which has been dogged by claims of dishonesty and undue haste.

Mr Worth’s amendment entitled the “Civil Relationships Bill” has support from the National Caucus, along with strong cross party support.

The new bill provides that any two people can register a “civil relationship” which will recognise their relationship in law. Once registered, parties to a civil relationship are issued with a certificate which will provide certainty in key areas such as next-of-kin rights.

In contrast to Civil Unions, a civil partnership is available to any two people wishing to register their relationship (including family members) to enjoy the protection and benefits that the accompanying Relationships (Statutory References) Bill may provide.

“The Civil Relationships Bill is more inclusive and recognises that there is a diversity of relationships, and that many do wish to formally register their relationship to ensure that they are recognised and protected in law.”

Mr Worth says a common example is two elderly sisters who live together and are financially dependent on each other but are currently unable to register their relationship. The Civil Union Bill excludes people in this type of relationship and is inappropriate for many other similar situations.

There are no ceremonial procedures for entry to or exit from a civil relationship to avoid any parallel or comparison with marriage.

“After listening to hundreds of submissions, I am familiar with the concerns of both sides of the argument and am confident that this alternative will address concerns levelled at Bill”, says Mr Worth.

“All politicians should be listening to the concerns of New Zealanders who do not want same-sex marriage dishonestly introduced in this country, but do support an alternative to marriage for relationships to be recognised and to provide certainty in key areas such as next-of-kin,” says Mr Worth.

The Bill also provides for a binding referendum on the issue.

“This is a practical, effective and proactive solution to a contentious issue,” Mr Worth says.

Explanatory Note

This Supplementary Order Paper sets out amendments to the Civil Union Bill to provide a system of relationships recognition for any two people wishing to register their relationship for their mutual benefit.

By omitting the prohibited degrees to the civil relationship, this Supplementary Order Paper widens the number of couples who will be able to register their relationship and enjoy the protection and benefits that the accompanying Relationships (Statutory References) Bill may provide.

Any two people may register a civil relationship if they are both aged 16 or over and not currently married or a party to a registered civil relationship. The Supplementary Order Paper outlines a simpler registration scheme than the Civil Union Bill. An application for registration of civil relationship may be made to the Registrar and it is then registered as a civil relationship under Part 7A of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995.

A civil relationship certificate is issued which is evidence of the existence of that civil relationship and can be relied for the purposes of identifying next-of-kin without further inquiry into the relationship or other relationships that a party to the civil relationship may have. The termination of a civil relationship is governed by this Act and again simplifies the procedure currently outlined in the Civil Union Bill.

There are no ceremonial procedures for entry to a civil relationship to avoid any parallel or comparison with marriage. It provides a civil contract entered into for the mutual support and benefit of the partners.

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