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Research demolishes myths about Civil Union subs

Research demolishes myths about Civil Union submissions

The Campaign for Civil Unions has released the first dramatic results from a research project analysing the submissions made to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee on the Civil Union Bill and the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill. The analysis was conducted by a team from Gender and Women’s Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, led by academic Dr Alison Laurie.

“It is clear from the submissions that those opposing the bills are part of an orchestrated campaign that fits within a “biblical literalist” or fundamentalist religious framework,” said Cameron Law, Campaign for Civil Unions coordinator.

“The submissions against the bills are based on narrow, moralistic claims. The submissions in favour of the legislation are based on experience – direct experience – of the problems in the current legal framework.

“Of the non form (standard) submissions, 459 were in favour of the Civil Union Bill while 2794 were against. The arguments in submissions against were based on views that are common among only a tiny minority of Christian people in New Zealand,” Cameron Law said.

Some other noteworthy facts regarding the submissions received: Only 277 submissions included information on their personal experience of matters relevant to the Bills. 270/897 (33%) were in support of the Bills, 7/5308 (0.1%) were against the Bill. 2913 (46%) were form submissions. 2823 of the 5308 submissions against the bills were form submissions - 53% of all negative submissions. In contrast, only 90 of the 807 submissions in favour - 11% - were form submissions. 2363 were one page or less in length and most of these (2121) were opposed to the bills. 2150 submissions included explicit or implicit homophobic comments

Arguments against the legislation can be loosely categories as “slippery slope” arguments (part of a ‘general moral decline’ thesis), with explicit references to paedophilia, bigamy and similar [292 submissions]; “contrary to God’s law” [288 submissions]; “harmful to children” [1344 submissions]; “inability to procreate” [474 submissions]; “opposed to rights for same sex couples” [593 submissions]; and a large number of submissions making points about marriage, which is not amended by the bills in question.

“The common theme behind the submissions against the bills is that many of them are clearly the result of an organised campaign among fringe Christian groups. They do not represent a mainstream Christian viewpoint, let alone the views of most New Zealanders,” said Cameron Law.

“Submissions in favour of the legislation stand in stark contrast to this. They are based on the real experiences faced by ordinary people, and they stand up for human rights for all New Zealanders.

“It is a pity that Don Brash didn’t read the submissions to the Select Committee before deciding to oppose the Civil Union Bill tomorrow. Had he done so, he would realise the number of submissions against the legislation only reflects the fundamentalist concerns of a noisy minority - not the opinion of most New Zealanders. I again call on Don Brash - and other MPs - to vote with their consciences on this issue,” Cameron Law concluded.

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