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Civil Unions “Anathema” to Marilyn Waring

22 October 2004

‘Human Rights’ via Gay Civil Unions “Anathema” to Marilyn Waring

“Queer Nation”, TV2’s (Adults Only) programme, the one that “sizzles with sex appeal” according to its promo as it “explores the issues in New Zealand's gay and lesbian community”, featured a punishing attack last night on the concept of civil unions. The attack was delivered by 52 year-old Professor Marilyn Waring, who was introduced as “probably one of New Zealand’s best known lesbian women”.

In what was described as “a frank interview” with Queer Nation presenter Steven Oates (screened on Thursday night 21 October 2004), Ms Waring denounced the shallow and misguided thinking that underlies the Civil Union Bill and its companion bill, the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill, stating: “I don’t want to live in a country that thinks that separate but equal has anything to do with human rights so I am completely opposed to civil unions.” It is noteworthy that 95.5% of the 6,170 written submissions received by the Justice and Electoral Committee on the Civil Union Bill opposed the Bill, and Ms Waring was one of them.

The “Queer Nation” interview explored Waring’s “political past” noting: “She’s been a farmer, a Member of Parliament, a highly respected author and is known internationally for her work in human rights and political economics. She’s on the Board of the Reserve Bank. She is Professor of Public Policy at Massey University at Albany.”

Oates said that “it was while she was still in parliament that Marilyn was ‘outed’ as a lesbian”. Apparently Ms Waring considers herself well-qualified to detect any lack of “social justice” in proposed legislation dealing with “gay” issues: “…if you have any kinds of inklings of social justice you start to smell it, see it, taste it, really quickly ...” she said categorically.

Oates informed viewers that Ms Waring “has always had a strong focus in her life on Human Rights. Being lesbian has also made her focus on Queer Human Rights.” He explained that “she stirred the pot recently when she made a submission on the Civil Union Bill.”

Waring explained:

“Well I made a submission opposing the Civil Union legislation. Marriage is a civil and political right and civil and political rights are not negotiable. You can’t have half a right. If it’s a civil or political right in international law it’s immediately enforceable. It’s not something that progressively – you know – as it depends on what you can politically get away with you might get there. So my submission is focused very much on the fact that civil union was a separate but equal approach and we’ve seen separate but equal approaches throughout history. Apartheid is a separate but equal approach. Segregation in the American south was a separate but equal approach. The internment of Japanese people in World War 2 was a separate but equal approach and gay people wearing pink triangles being taken away before even Jews were taken away, was a separate but equal approach. And I don’t want to live in a country that thinks that separate but equal has anything to do with human rights SO I AM COMPLETELY OPPOSED TO CIVIL UNIONS.


“Many of the people campaigning for civil rights in New Zealand don’t believe that marriage is politically possible here. But Marilyn says we only need to look to Canada for the right approach.”


They really understood in terms of the way in which their jurisdiction operates that they had to wait until they knew they could win. And they knew they could win in three provinces at the same time. And I just think that it’s crazy to be impetuous and to have a foundation of bad law. And to have any New Zealanders under any misapprehension that gays have paternalistically been given a human right when they have been subject to another discrimination treatment is anathema to me.


“Marilyn believes the Canadian marriage cases will provide case law for any future court challenges to New Zealand marriage law and while she sees a continued future for herself and the advancement of Human Rights she’s also notes that she’s changing.

Marilyn’s closing comments dealt with her new found interests away from rural life…

“I’m mellowing as well you know….”

REFERENCES to Marilyn Waring’s views [1 –2].

[1] “Civil union bill doesn't go far enough for gay ex-MP” by Jon Stokes.
NZ Herald 24.08.2004.


[2] “Who's Counting: Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics” Video (1995: National Film Board of Canada).

Described as: “-- despite its rather dry title -- is a fascinating documentary about this New Zealand activist and lesbian.”


[1] See the transcript of the film Gayrights/Special Rights: Inside the Homosexual Agenda produced by Jeremiah Films. http://www.christian-apologetics.org/html/Gay_rights_Special_rights.htm

[2] See: “Does the Civil Union Bill Legalise Marriage?” SPCS Press Release. Wednesday, 30 June 2004. http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/PO0406/S00298.htm


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