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Government Must Assure On Civil Union Agenda

Government Must Give Assurance On Civil Union Agenda

ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks today called on Attorney General Margaret Wilson to tell New Zealanders whether the next step after Civil Union will be the prosecution for "hate crime" of people who try to persuade others that homosexuality is wrong.

"What does Jacquie Grant - claiming to be a member of the Human Rights Commission Review Panel - know about the Government's agenda? Has she merely jumped the gun to threaten opponents of the Civil Union Bill, in saying - `rest assured that you will be taken to task at every opportunity for hate crime'?

"This is exactly what I feared could lie behind the Bill, after hearing submissions on the Justice and Electoral Select Committee. Frequent references to "homophobia" and "hate crime" by Bill supporters roused concern is that the Bill was simply an opening ploy. Accordingly, as someone who voted for it at first reading, I urged the insertion of a provision to protect against it being used as authority to suppress people who advocate against homosexuality."

"If Ms Grant's threat is unauthorised will she be removed from that Panel, as unsuitable and prone to abuse of office?"

"In the absence of a provision in the Bill to protect freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion, I will be urging my colleagues to vote against it, even though I have no objection to state neutrality toward couples who wish to choose the rights and obligations the state has prescribed for marriage," Mr Franks said.

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