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Passing of Civil Union Bill shows growing maturity

09 December, 2004 Media Statement

Passing of Civil Union Bill shows growing maturity of our nation

The passing of the Civil Union Bill in Parliament today shows the growing maturity of New Zealand as a nation, says Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says that despite some of the extreme positions taken in this debate, the vast majority of New Zealanders are quietly supportive of the need to remove discrimination and provide legal protection to the relationships of people who could not marry, or who chose not to marry.

"After all, what is being asked for here seems so modest," he said. "Marriage remains something solely available to a man and a woman. Civil unions offer an alternative to those unable to marry, or who do not wish to marry. Civil unions are to be a new relationship option that takes nothing from anyone else, while providing choice to people currently denied such.

"Some argue that only a small minority of the population might ever want to enter into a civil union. Does this make removing discrimination any less worthwhile?

"As the majority of New Zealanders who have supported this Bill seem to have understood only too well, human rights are not measured by numbers through a turnstile."

Mr Benson-Pope predicted that once people realised the sky hadn't fallen in with the passing of the Bill, any remaining opposition would soon evaporate.

"This Bill takes away nothing, but gives that simplest of things – the formal recognition and respect by our laws for the individual choices of New Zealanders," said Mr Benson-Pope. "It is appropriate that this Bill was enacted on the eve of United Nations International Human Rights Day."

ENDS

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