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Civil Unions - No threat to marriage or children

NZ Aids Foundation
YWCA
Family Planning Assoc.
Relationship Services

PRESS RELEASE 23 AUGUST 2004

Civil Unions Bill – ''No threat to marriage or children''

The strength of families will be enhanced and children better protected if the Civil Union and Relationships (Statutory References) Bills are passed by Parliament, say Family Planning, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, Relationship Services and the YWCA.

The four organisations believe that the Bill is important on the basis of both human rights and on public and mental health grounds. They are also concerned that those who claim the two Bills are a threat to marriage, families and the well-being of children are ignoring considerable research.

YWCA chief executive Janine Ahie says: “Our organisations share a vision of a fully inclusive world where division based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, culture and religion no longer exist and in which justice, peace, health and human dignity are promoted and sustained. The passage of the Civil Unions Bill and the Relationships (Statutory references) Bill will help meet these objectives.”

The four organisations believe the passage of these Bills will enhance family unity, community wellness and the protection of children without threatening traditional marriage.

“Assisting heterosexual and same-sex couples for whom marriage is not available, or not an appropriate choice, to have stable and committed relationships by according them legal recognition, with all of the responsibilities, duties and privileges that go with that status, can only enhance the strength of families in New Zealand,” says Rachael Le Mesurier, NZAF executive director.

Jeff Sanders, chief executive officer for Relationship Services, says: “There are many diverse forms of committed, loving and healthy relationships and families in our society – healthy relationships are the domain of all people, they are not confined to a particular sexuality, institution or cultural tradition.”

Dr Gill Greer, FPA executive director says there is considerable research to show that the sexual orientation of a parent is irrelevant to the development of a child’s mental health and social development and the quality of parenting.

“It is a major concern to us that young people in New Zealand schools can be subject to disapproval, harassment, bullying and discrimination because of the standing of their parent’s relationship. Such discrimination on the basis of their parents’ status is in conflict with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Individual and social wellbeing are strengthened through the recognition of the legal status of same sex couples, or heterosexual couples who choose not to marry but want some form of public and legal recognition and protection for themselves and their children. In 1994 the Government of New Zealand with 178 countries recognised the diversity of family forms at the International Conference on Population Development.”

“Neither the love and mutual commitment present in a successful heterosexual marriage, nor the institution of marriage itself, is threatened by having in society legal recognition for couples, who cannot or choose not to marry,” Janine Ahie says.

“These Bills will help ensure that our society celebrates diversity, is tolerant of difference, respectful of individual choice and treats all people equitably. This is a model of a strong and healthy community,” the joint statement concludes.

ENDS

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