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Campaign applauds work of Select Committee

29 November 2004

Campaign applauds work of Justice and Electoral Select Committee

Fairness and equality are alive and well in New Zealand, if the broad cross-party support of the Justice and Electoral select committee is anything to go by.

The Campaign for Civil Unions today applauded the work of the Select Committee on the Civil Union Bill, saying it valued fairness and equality despite the many hysterical submissions in opposition. Many of these submissions warned that the Civil Union Bill was a slippery slope which would lead to moral decay, with polygamy, necrophilia and even the physical destruction of New Zealand by God predicted, should the Bill pass.

“The Select Committee was right to dismiss the arguments of this small but extreme minority who have demonstrated such a clear lack of tolerance. They have clearly used the Select Committee process as an opportunity to vent their personal disapproval of homosexuality", Campaign spokesperson Cameron Law says.

The Campaign says the Select Committee's cross-party support for the Civil Union Bill reflects the opinion polls which have consistently shown that New Zealanders are supportive of civil unions. The Campaign is now urging MPs to support the Bill's passage.

"The passing of the Bill is not only in line with New Zealand opinion polls but is also consistent with international trends among western democracies. Many of the nations we have traditionally compared ourselves to have now introduced similar laws, including France, Germany, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and others." Mr Law said.

"The United Kingdom has also now passed its Civil Partnership Act, which contrary to the arguments of United Future is a direct equivalent of the Civil Union Bill covering both relationship recognition elements and measures to end discrimination. This is achieved in New Zealand by the combination of the Civil Union Bill and the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill. The passing of both Bills is necessary to achieve equality and reduce discrimination."

"The Civil Union Bill is about equality and freedom of choice. It does not force anyone to have a civil union, or to attend one or to like them, or to change their views on homosexuality. It simply gives both heterosexual couples and same-sex couples an opportunity to have their relationship recognised at law, so they can celebrate, so they can make a commitment, so they can have the protection of the law. It has absolutely no effect on anyone outside the relationship."

Please see attachments:

- An international comparison of relationships recognition (below)

- A list of quotes taken from a sample of submissions which demonstrates the types of arguments used by opponents of the Civil Union Bill (previous story).

ENDS

International comparisons of relationship recognition options


Country

Population

Status available

Level of use

Measure introduced

Australia

Tasmania 456,652

South Australia 1,467,261

Tasmania – Registered Partnerships

South Australia – proposals for Civil Unions Bill; Relationships Bill

Unknown

 

 

2004

 

To be introduced soon by Liberal party

member

Belgium

10.3 million

Cohabitation;

marriage

139 at 2003.

Cohabitation 1998; marriage 2002

Canada (some areas)

32 million

Same-sex marriage (British Colombia, Quebec, Ontario, Yukon, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan)

Registered partnership (Alberta)

British Columbia

As of August 2, 2003, 77 same-sex couples registered to be legally married. As of June 28, 2003, Toronto issued 220 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Progressively from 2002

Denmark

5.4 million

Same-sex registered partnership

2468 Partnerships Registered at 2004

1989

Finland

5.4 million

Registered partnership

N/a

2001

France

60 million

Civil solidarity pact (registered partnership)

30,000 per annum

1999

Germany

82 million

Partnership registration

N/a

2001

Hungary

10 million

Registered partnership

N/a

1996

Iceland

300,000

Registered partnership

N/a

1996

Liechtenstein

33,000

Registered partnership

N/a

2002

Netherlands

16 million

Same-sex registered partnership;

Same-sex marriage

Total about 3000 people per annum

Partnership 1998;

Marriage 2001

Norway

4.5 million

Same-sex registered partnership

Average c 180 per annum

1993

Portugal

10 million

Partnership rights

N/a

2001

Scotland

5 million

The Scottish Parliament has agreed a motion 80: 25 to allow the Westminster Parliament to include Scotland in the legislation currently before that House that would enable same sex registered partnerships

N/a

Agreed by Parliament 2004, majority 80:25. Became law in November 2004 when the UK Civil Registration Bill passed.

Spain

40.3 million

Same-sex marriage

N/a

Expected to be in place by 2005

Sweden

8.9 million

Same-sex registered partnership

Same-sex marriage?

Average c 400 per annum

1995

2004

United Kingdom (England) Wales, and Northern Island

54.7 million

Same-sex registered partnership

Department of Trade and Industry estimates that between 4500 (low scenario) and 124,000 (high scenario) people are likely to take up the option by 2010 (England, Scotland and Wales only).

Passed and given royal assent in November 2004.

USA (California, Hawaii, Vermont)

37 million (California, Vermont and Hawaii combined)

Registered partnership and same-sex marriage

Hawaii: As of May 17, 2001 - 578 reciprocal beneficiary relationships were registered. In 2002, 1707 civil unions were established in Vermont, down from 1875 in 2001.

California 2000

Vermont 2001

Hawaii 1997

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