Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Civil Union Bill &Claims of Unjust Discrimination

THE SOCIETY FOR THE PROMOTION OF COMMUNITY STANDARDS INC.
P.O. Box 13-683 Johnsonville SPCSNZ@hotmail.com
http://www.spcs.org.nz

Press Release
2 July 2004

Civil Union Bill and Claims of Unjust Discrimination

The repeated claims by promoters of the Civil Union Bill and its companion, the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill, that there are ''hundreds of pieces of legislation that discriminate against homosexual couples'' deserves close scrutiny when it is made an issue of justice, as it always is by the bills’ promoters. The Human Rights Act 1993 and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 are invoked and strident assertions made of “unjust discrimination” based on “sexual orientation”. Such claims regularly ignore the difference between just and unjust discrimination.

Gun license laws justly discriminate on the basis of age. Taxation laws and those relating to financial disclosure recognise business partnerships (based in contract law) involving individuals. (These laws ‘discriminate’ between those in such relationships and those who are not). Other laws recognise personal employment status, based for example on a statutory appointment. The dissolution procedures applying to such appointees discriminate between those involved in statutory and non-statutory appointments.

The natures of marriage and same-sex partnerships are radically and fundamentally different. A marriage (involving a man and a woman) is a radically and fundamentally different kind of relationship to that of a same-sex relationship. The state has every reason and justification for treating them differently in law based on the real and fundamental differences. This is just discrimination. It enables the state to confer legal advantages on those in a preferred relationship (marriage), based on the advantages and benefits it has for society. Other relationships can be tolerated without the compulsion in law to treat them on the same basis as marriage.

Mr Conor Roberts, spokesperson for the campaign for the Civil Union Bill has stated:

“It's important that the bills pass because they removes [sic] discrimination from our laws. In this day and age it is unfair that gay and lesbian couples are denied the right to the formal recognition of their relationship. Imagine being together with somebody for over twenty years and then being denied the right to view your partner’s body if they are in an accident because you are not considered legal next of kin. This is just one example of the hundreds of pieces of legislation that discriminate against homosexual couples.” [1]

The Civil Union Bill Campaign Committee’s Website states:

‘The law’s failure to recognise same-sex partners means they are not recognised as family or “next of kin”. As a consequence, a same-sex partner may be shut out from care arrangements by the family of their loved one in the event of illness. There are a number of examples of same-sex partners being excluded from funeral arrangements when the rest of the family takes over. There are over one hundred ways in which same-sex couples are treated differently.’ [2]

Given the constant claims of “unjust discrimination” in current laws made by a tiny minority of the New Zealand population who identify themselves as practising homosexuals and lesbians in a same-sex relationship, one would have expected there to be a large number of complaints registered with the Human Rights Commission by these people, most of which would have been taken to mediation and/or on to resolution before the Human Rights Tribunal. However, there are none or very few relating to any of the claimed cases of “unjust discrimination” highlighted in the propaganda issued by the promoters of the Civil Union Bill and its companion bill.

The Society secretary recently wrote to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and raised a number of questions with Mr Mervin Singham, Disputes Resolution Manager for the Commission. The responses highlight the poverty of argument and deception that lies at the heart of the vociferous claims of “injustice discrimination” made by “gay-rights” activists. The claimed “evidence” supporting the urgent need for the proposed bills is just not there.

Telephone enquiries made to the Office of David Benson-Pope, Associate Minister of Justice, have failed to locate any solid evidence supporting claims of discrimination that have led to formal complaints. His officials have only made vague references to anecdotal ‘evidence’ (that they cannot disclose and is undocumented).

It is important to clear up one matter. The Court of Appeal, in a unanimous decision (Quilter v Attorney General [1998] 1 NZLR 523), concluded that the denial of marriage to same-sex couples, did not constitute discrimination. Complaints received by the HRC with respect to this matter are therefore irrelevant to the case for a Civil Union Bill, as this Bill does not in itself rectify claimed discrimination on the basis of marriage. It only provides same-sex couples (and heterosexual couples in de facto relationships) with the opportunity to register their relationship as a civil union – not marriage – and gain a level of social recognition of their relationship status. It is the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill that, if enacted into law, will confer legal rights and responsibilities to all couples in relationships, including same-sex couples.

Response from Human Rights Commission dated 30 June 2004.

Thank-you for your email received by the Human Rights Commission on Monday 21, 2004, please find below the answers to the questions you raised….

1. How many formal complaints has the HRC received from individuals in same-sex relationships concerning claimed discrimination against them in terms of their inability to gain state-sanctioned marriage status for their relationship(s)?

The Human Rights Commission has received three complaints regarding the inability of same-sex couples to marry. Two of these complaints have been formally notified and dealt with through the part 1(A) process.

2. Of these cases, if any, has/have the complainant(s) formally represented other individuals
in other same-sex relationships, when bringing their own complaint(s) to the Commission - and how many?

The complainants represented themselves in these complaints.

3. How many formal complaints has the HRC received from individuals in same-sex relationships concerning claimed discrimination against them in terms of their inability to gain legal recognition of their relationship (other than by way of marriage)?

We received five other complaints;
One where same sex couples were denied next of kin status
One where partners were denied a certificate of non-impediment enabling them to marry overseas
Two complaints about the inability to adopt children in a same sex relationship as a result of the inability to marry
One where the ability of a partner in a same sex relationship to record their name on their deceased partner’s death certificate was impeded

4. Of these cases, if any, has/have the complainant(s) formally represented other individuals in other same-sex relationships, when bringing their complaint(s) - and how many?

The complainants represented themselves in these complaints

5. How many formal complaints has the HRC received from individuals in same-sex relationships concerning claimed discrimination against them by funeral directors, morgue officials etc. who have denied them the opportunity to view their same-sex partner's corpse following death?

We have not received any formal complaints regarding this issue.

6. How many formal complaints has the HRC received from individuals in heterosexual de facto relationships concerning claimed discrimination against them by funeral directors, morgue officials etc., on the basis of non-marital status; who have denied them the opportunity to view their same-sex partner's corpse following death?

We have not received any formal complaints regarding this issue.

7. How many formal complaints has the HRC received from individuals in same-sex relationships concerning claimed discrimination against them by funeral directors etc. who have denied them the opportunity to be buried in the same plot next to their same-sex partner following their own death (married couples have these 'rights')?

We have not received any formal complaints regarding this issue.

8. How many formal complaints has the HRC received from individuals in heterosexual de facto relationships concerning claimed discrimination against them by funeral directors etc. who have denied them the opportunity to be buried in the same plot next to their same-sex partner following their own death?

We have not received any formal complaints regarding this issue.

9. Have any of the complaints w.r.t. questions 1-8, if any, been mediated or dealt with formally in any way by the HRC? If so, which category of complaint(s)?

The Human Rights Commission has attempted mediation in two complaints about the Marriage Act.

We trust that this information is of assistance to you. Should you require any further information, or have any further queries please do not hesitate to make contact.

Yours Sincerely,
Gemma Barden
Technical/Legal Assistant/Kaihautu Ritenga Ture
Dispute Resolution Team
Human Rights Commission / Te Kahui Tika Tangata
P O Box 6751, Wellesley Street
AUCKLAND

REFERENCES

[1] Civil Union Bill Petition, Thursday, 17 June 2004, 2:32 pm. Press Release: Campaign for Civil Unions. http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/PO0406/S00179.htm

[2] http://www.civilunion.co.nz/reasons.html

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>

ALSO:

Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>

ALSO:

General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>

ALSO:

Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news