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Civil Union law working well one year on

Civil Union law working well one year on says Campaign

26 April 2006

The Campaign for Civil Unions says that, a year after it was introduced, the Civil Union law is working well.

While opponents of the legislation have labelled it a "waste of time", the Campaign for Civil Unions say the only time that was wasted was their time spent fruitlessly opposing the law, which provides a fair opportunity for all New Zealanders to register their relationships.

"Justice isn't a popularity contest. The ability of each of the 460 couples who have registered a Civil Union to secure legal recognition is of far greater personal significance to them than it is to the law's opponents", said campaign spokesperson Michael Wallmannsberger.

The Campaign says uptake of Civil Unions compares favourably with overseas experience. New Zealanders have registered relationships at a rate of about 115 couples per million people in the first year of the legislation. This is well ahead of Denmark (84), Norway (35) and Sweden (37) after their first years and second only to the Netherlands, where uptake was 191 couples per million people in the first year.

"We are particularly heartened to see a balance of same-sex and heterosexual couples taking up the Civil Union option", said Mr Wallmannsberger. "This suggests that New Zealand got it right making Civil Unions an option available to all New Zealanders".

The Campaign expects to see the uptake of Civil Unions continue to grow.

"Civil Unions are about recognising stable, long-term, committed relationships", said Mr Wallmannsberger. "It's quite obvious that registering a Civil Union isn't a decision you make overnight. It may take a number of years to fully assess the popularity of Civil Unions as a form or relationship recognition".

Meanwhile, the Campaign emphasises that last year's relationship law reform has automatically improved the legal recognition of de facto relationships, estimated to cover about 300, 000 couples.

The Campaign welcomes calls for further work on a next of kin register in addition to the Civil Union and de facto provisions as recommended by the Select Committee at the time of the Bill. However, the Civil Union Act is clearly working well and there is no cause to meddle with it.

ENDS

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