INDEPENDENT NEWS

Select Committee Report on Civil Unions Welcomed

Published: Tue 30 Nov 2004 10:05 AM
Select Committee Report on Civil Unions Welcomed
PrideAlliance is delighted that today's report from the Justice and Electoral Committee has recommended that the Civil Union bill be passed. Although continuing to deny marriage to same-sex couples is unreasonable discrimination, Civil Unions are an important step towards a society free from homophobia.
A welcome addition to the bill is the recognition within New Zealand as civil unions of civil unions and same-sex marriages solemnised overseas. The need for such recognition was pointed out in the PrideAlliance submission to the Select Committee.
We are, however, concerned that administrative fees for civil unions are expected to be higher than those for marriage. "Making same sex couples pay more for state recognition of their relationships is a very clear case of discrimination," said PrideAlliance spokesperson Kelly Buchanan.
We also regret that recognition of de facto relationships remains in the bill. "Automatic state recognition of de facto relationships raises serious privacy concerns," said Ms Buchanan. "With most barriers to wilful registration of relationships eliminated by the bill, identical treatment for unregistered relationships is not appropriate. The question of de facto relationships is a complex one that should be addressed separately."
Unfortunately, there is still a risk that the bill will not be passed. Despite the Labour Party claiming to be supportive of queer people, a number of Labour MPs voted against the bill at its first reading. Formal support for the bill by Labour as a whole would guarantee its passage, so if it fails, Labour should be held responsible.

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