New Zealand to legalise gay marriages, report
July 16, 2003
WELLINGTON - The New Zealand government plans to legalize civil weddings for
gays and give same-sex partners all the legal rights of married
couples, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
The change was in keeping with an election pledge to end
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by the Labour
Party, which heads a centre-left coalition, the New Zealand Herald
If it does so, New Zealand would become the third country to
recognize same-sex marriages. So far, only the Netherlands and
Belgium have done so, but Canada has announced its intentions to
pass similar legislation.
The new law in New Zealand would legalize civil unions, which
would probably be certified by the Registry of Births, Deaths and
Marriages, the paper said.
If couples separated, they would be able to dissolve the union
after two years, just as with divorces between men and women.
The move is expected to provoke opponents such as religious
groups, which argue that civil unions weaken the sanctity of
marriage, and members of parliament will be allowed a conscience
vote on the measure, meaning they will not have to vote along party
lines, the Herald said.
It said the government was worried that more than 100 laws that
recognize only married couples of the opposite sex could be subject
to legal challenges as infringing the human rights of others.
The government has already passed legislation to recognize
property rights in de-facto and same-sex relationships, and such
unions will be recognized under new guardianship laws for children
now being debated in parliament. - Sapa-DPA
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