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Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 99

Maxim Institute

real issues.
this week: No. Ninety-Nine 26 FEBRUARY 2004

* Prime Minister's tolerance has limits
* Child prostitution reason to revisit law
* Civil Union Bills about to be unveiled?
* Maxim Forum 2004 - Political Correctness: end of an error?

Prime Minister's tolerance has limits

The Prime Minister says some groups should be marginalised. In the last edition of Express, Helen Clark suggests there should be limits on freedom of thought. When asked if the government was "worried about the level of homophobia" in New Zealand, she replied: "We legislated against hate crimes. It is a very small minority point of view and I think, through continuing to set the tone of tolerance, acceptance and diversity, you just have to further marginalise such people. Hopefully one day nobody will think that way." While the question was loaded, the logical implication of her answer is that legislation should be used to determine acceptable thought.

Maxim maintains that a free society is one in which ideas can be thought, expressed and debated without fear. While inciting hatred cannot be condoned, freedom of religion, expression and thought, are foundational to a liberal democracy.

The Prime Minister also expressed concern about Maxim's submission on the Care of Children Bill. She was asked by the Express if she agreed with a statement in Maxim's submission; that same-sex parenting "satisfies the desires of parents ahead of the needs of children" and that "it is wrong for the state to encourage it." She said, "Rubbish! That is absolute rubbish! It won't have any impact on the bill." Is making a submission that counters the PM's view a waste of time? A public submission process, if it is to be of value, must not be subject to the Prime Minister's agenda.

Power always has the potential to intimidate. Helen Clark also appears to question the right of a private manufacturing company which supports Maxim, to sell products to a government department. She said, "I think more should be known because [government department's] commercial decisions are not only affected by product. I would not support the Maxim Institute in any shape or form."

Is the Prime Minister inferring that such a company's political views must agree with the government? This is serious stuff.

Is this a David and Goliath story? Maxim views these remarks as a sign that we are making an impact and we appreciate your continued support towards our work. To read the full interview visit: www.maxim.org.nz/ri/pm_interview.html

Child prostitution reason to revisit law

Over the past week a Press investigation has revealed more than 20 children - some as young as 12 - prostituting themselves on Christchurch streets. Community agencies working with street kids say groups of children are involved, and that it has become worse since the Prostitution Reform Act was passed last year. Christchurch's Police Commander says the numbers involved are about the same.

The architect of the Prostitution Act, MP Tim Barnett, initially said he did not think there was a real problem and that it is too soon to judge its effectiveness. He has since backtracked and called for a parliamentary inquiry into the Press claims.

Researcher Dr Miriam Saphira, from ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), who has carried out several major studies on the issue, says children as young as 10 are being coerced into prostitution, often by older women or pimps. Dr Saphira's research shows that young people who have been victims of sexual abuse and who are living apart from their parents are more vulnerable to be lured into prostitution. In a national survey of 195 cases of known underage commercial prostitution, 145 involved children under 16 years old.

ECPAT was one of many who tried to point out to government that legalising prostitution would open the door to more women and children. Because it's legal, it's now seen as a legitimate career choice, which makes it more difficult to prevent underage children from entering prostitution.

Police and local councils are hamstrung in their ability to combat the problem. Most of the Police powers were removed by the new Act - they cannot even ask a girl for proof of age and require a search warrant to enter a brothel if they suspect illegal activity. And because street prostitution and soliciting were made legal by the Act, councils can't stop it.

While the harsh realities of legalised prostitution are starting to be felt, now is a good time to have this ill-drafted law reconsidered. Please sign and support the referendum to repeal the Prostitution Reform Act which will give the next parliament the mandate to start again.

If you, your organisation or community group would like assistance to promote the referendum, please contact: Daniel Goldie-Anderson Tel. 09-627 3261 Email: daniel.goldie-anderson@maxim.org.nz The petition is at: www.maxim.org.nz/p/hm.html

Civil Union Bills about to be unveiled?

The government plans to introduce shortly two Civil Union Bills. If passed they would have the effect of reducing marriage to no better than any other relationship.

The first Bill will allow anyone - either same-sex or opposite-sex - to register their relationship as a "Civil Union" with the state. The second Bill will write the terms "marriage", "husband" and "wife" out of more than 100 pieces of legislation, and give to all relationships the same rights and benefits as marriage.

In the name of human rights and equality the Bills will give homosexual partners the same rights as married people. It is argued that it is discrimination to deny them the same benefits enjoyed by married couples. However, this move is the latest attack in a campaign to destroy the foundational place of marriage which provides a socially approved context for sexual relations and raising children.

Implementation of the Bills will remove the place of marriage as a privileged institution because of its role in creating social stability. Marriage would be deliberately marginalised as a private arrangement of little consequence.

Passing the Civil Union Bills would be a move to provide rights on the basis of sexual preference. The state however, has given married couples privileges (not rights) in recognition of the special-ness of marriage. Because of the benefit of marriage to society it is the only sexual relationship that the state properly has an interest in.

As a new Associate Minister of Justice, David Benson-Pope is expected to takeover sponsoring the Civil Union Bills from Lianne Dalziel. The Prime Minister says the legislation is ready to go and hopes that it can be passed by the end of this year. If you would like to receive regular email updates on the Civil Union Bills, send a blank email to: civilunions@maxim.org.nz

Maxim Forum 2004 - Political Correctness: end of an error?

The need for a public discussion on Political Correctness in New Zealand couldn't be more urgent. Increasingly our freedom to think independently and hold views different from those in power is coming under threat. An outstanding mix of local and international speakers will inform and surprise you, including: Leighton Smith; Cecilia Lashlie; Bruce Logan; Frank Ellis from Leeds University, England; and Peter Wood, Boston University, USA. The forum will be held in Christchurch, on 20 March, and in Auckland, on 27 March.

For more information and to register online visit: www.maxim.org.nz/forum2004.html

For additional enquires call Mary Davidson tel. 09-627 3261.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Thomas Jefferson

That Government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.

To subscribe send a blank email to: realissues@maxim.org.nz

Real Issues is a weekly email newsletter from the Maxim Institute. The focus is current New Zealand events with an attempt to provide insight into critical issues beyond what is usually presented in the media. This service is provided free of charge, although a donation to Maxim is appreciated. Items may be used for other purposes, such as teaching, research or civic action. If items are published elsewhere, Maxim should be acknowledged.

Key principles - The Building Blocks of Civil Society http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/about_page/about_keyprinciples.html

Maxim Institute 49 Capehorn Road, Hillsborough, Auckland. Ph (09) 627 3261 50 Acacia Avenue, Riccarton, Christchurch. Ph. (03) 343 1570

Email: maxim@maxim.org.nz Web: http://www.maxim.org.nz

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