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Civil Union Laws Give Couples A Fairer Deal

Thursday 17 June


Counselling agency Relationship Services Whakawhanaungatanga is welcoming proposed civil union legislation as it will mean a fairer deal for all couples in a committed relationship.

The proposed legislation, due to go before Parliament on Tuesday, will give all couples - heterosexual and same sex - the right to register their relationships as civil unions, thereby accessing the same recognition and relationship rights conferred by marriage.

"We support the concept that people in committed relationships should be able to choose to have their relationship recognised by the law and the community," said Relationship Services Chief Executive Jeff Sanders.

"We also support moves to ensure that people in different types of relationships are treated in a more consistent and less discriminatory manner. What that says about us as a society is that we recognise diversity and people's personal choices, and that we encourage and value stable, loving and enduring relationships. If people are living in a society which refuses to recognise their relationships, it puts tremendous pressure on them."

According to census figures, there are an estimated 169,000 defacto couples in New Zealand and at least 5,000 same-sex couples who declared their relationships, though that figure may be much higher. "Human Rights legislation makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone on the basis of marital status or sexual orientation, yet there is a large number of New Zealand laws that do just that," Mr Sanders said.

"For instance, there are more than 100 pieces of law where same-sex partners in committed relationships are treated differently. Many same-sex couples feel real injustice that they are not entitled to any protections or security under the law."

Mr Sanders rejected criticism that the proposed legislation was 'anti-marriage'. "The Civil Union Bill establishes a new legal relationship that gives defacto couples another option for formalising their relationships, and same-sex couples the legal and social recognition that they should be entitled to, while still honouring marriage as an individual choice."


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