I have been saying for months that New Zealand is likely to be the next (or one of the next) nations to introduce equal marriage.
New Zealand will experience (and to an extent already is experiencing) truculent opposition (using the same exhausted and ignorant arguments used in the UK, USA and elsewhere – which are all totally discredited). However, NZ are a proud nation and proud of their record on human rights, equality and fairness.
NZ championed womens rights; In 1873 New Zealand passed the Employment of Females Act, which regulated the working conditions for women in workrooms and factories, forbidding night work and limiting work to eight hours a day.
In 1893 NZ became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. By 2001 they could boast that the positions of governor-general, prime minister, leader of the opposition, chief justice, and chief executive officer of their largest company were all held by women.
NZ recognises that homosexuality is not a
colonial import. According to Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, ‘Maori practised homosexuality before the Europeans arrived. Europeans came into a Maori-Polynesian-Pacific world in which sexual expression and spontaneity was enjoyed. It was a sex-positive culture in which the erotic was celebrated and dignified in the arts, in song, in moteatea and in carving’.
Successive New Zealand Governments have taken steps to remove the explicit and implicit barriers that prevent homosexual people from being able to exercise their human rights. The most significant step in the last twenty years was the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986, which removed the criminal sanctions for homosexual activity between consenting male adults.
In 1993, the HRA was amended to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation (defined in section 21 to mean ‘a heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation’). The prohibition on discrimination at that time applied broadly to the areas of providing goods
and services to the public, accommodation, employment and access to educational institutions. There are some exceptions for religious organisations.
However, discrimination continues to exist in the different (and disadvantageous) treatment of homosexual, transgender and intersex people in a number of areas, including the rights and responsibilities flowing from relationships and the ways in which families are defined (which do not recognise homosexual partners and their families). Some legal changes have occurred to address some of those matters, such as extending protection to a wider range of people (including homosexual people) under the Domestic Violence Act 1995 and the Property (Relationships) Amendment Act 2001.
Same-sex marriage proper and adoption now remains the final barrier before full LGBT formal and substantive equality in New Zealand.
Kiwis are strong believers in equality and fairness. There are of course, like every jurisdiction, those who are opposed to LGBT
equality. Internet discussion about equal marriage in NZ has shown the usual rhetoric about incest, bestiality, and procreation – there has also been a call for a referendum by one politician. However, whilst these demands are those heard with increasing familiarity in the UK and elsewhere – the difference in NZ is that a majority of MPs appear to favour SSM and equality and are prepared to ignore the bogus and false indoctrinations of those seeking to prevent fairness and equality.
I wish the Kiwi’s well. It is my favourite place in the world (with the exception of NE England) and I look forward to going to Wellington to celebrate the marriage of two gay couples who are my friends out there.
Maori in general are actually very socially conservative and very much see homosexuality as a western import. Pacific Islanders only really accept ‘fafafini’ – which is a ‘third’ gender. This is itself is homophobic.
According to the NZ Herald all three Maori Party MPs intend voting in favour of marriage equality.
Takatāpui is the Māori word meaning a devoted partner of the same sex. Takatāpui incorporates both a sense of indigenous identity and communicates sexual orientation. The word takatāpui was found to have existed in pre-colonial New Zealand. Although circumstantial, there remains some evidence that takatāpui lived without discrimination in pre-European times. Some contemporary Māori LGBT people use the terms gay and lesbian as a convenience, while others self-identify as takatāpui to resist the colonization of their identities and bodies which would “deny access to important ancestral knowledge”. Some use both terms. Derivatives of takatāpui include takatāpui kaharua for bisexual, takatāpui wahine for lesbian and takatāpui wahine ki tāne or takatāpui tāne ki wahine for transmen or transwomen.
So, of course
there is an element within Maori cultures that can appear socially conservative – the reality within is that there is embracing of equality, fairness and diversity with a mildly different world view (in some areas) but which embraces difference and recognises the strength in humanity.
Thanks, Stu. Very informative. I hope that a vote for equality in NZ would help shame her closest neighbour to do the same.
I’m crossing my fingers and hoping it will have some impact across the waters in Australia but with 2 hard nosed leaders without any guts or decency I doubt it.
Perhaps the Catholic church didn’t infilatrate the NZ polictical parties like it did over here in Australia…..
Good luck NZ!
Politicians are employed to represent the people and the constitution etc etc. Not to be given a conscience vote to further their own beliefs. Why can’t we all remember that?
It is wonderful to hear all these positive noises from south of the Equator. It will only be a matter of time before both New Zealand and Austalia join South Africa and Argentina in bringing in full marriage equality.
Unfortunately male homosexuality remains a criminal offence in the Cook Islands which are a self-governing territory of New Zealand and has a population of 20,000. Cook Islanders have New Zealand citizenship and have the option of relocating to New Zealand itself although it is time that NZ pressurised the Cook Islands into repealing their outdated laws.
Meanwhile here in Australia we still wait for equality!
When will marriage equality happen here in Australia, 2050 perhaps?
The current calendar says 2012, Gillard and Abbott calendar are stuck reading the 1912 calender my grandmother sold in an antique store!
I feel ashamed and embarrassed to be Australian!
Well done New Zealand, always ahead of us!
I love New Zealand men and hopefully maybe considering becoming a New Zealand citizen?!
59 votes is a sure YES vote for marriage equality!
Just 2 more to go!
We need 61 votes as a minimum. There is no upper house to worry about thank goodness (just like Finland, Luxembourg, Andorra and Nepal).
NZ First’s abstention will have the major consequence of lowering the number needed for a majority – to pass, the ‘yes’ vote will only be 57 instead of 61.
Thus the 59 votes you seem sure of means victory is likely to be assured.
Marriage equality (ending discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or identity) is no threat to families or to people of faith.
With Civil Unions, New Zealand acknowledged diverse families legally. Now is the time for full social equality. Marriage has been evolving as a civil and religious institution throughout human history.For many centuries, neither church nor state were involved in solemnizing marriages.While there have always been loving marriages, marriage has its origins in the more mundane realities of property, procreation and patriarchy.
All over the western world, the movement to transform marriage is underway. However, it is not gay and lesbian people who have been transforming marriage. It is heterosexuals. It seems to me that it is precisely because heterosexuals have changed marriage from an economic arrangement to a relationship of love and support, that gay and lesbian people are seeking to join it.
Over time, changes have occurred to recognize the
humanity of people and their moral and civil rights within marriage.In the past, neither the state nor religion recognized divorce and remarriage, inter-racial marriage, or gender equality in marriage.Rather than threatening marriage, the changes of the modern era have strengthened it.
For religious people marriageremains a holy covenant. Marriage has the potential to create stable, committed relationships. It enables people to share economic resources. It nurtures the couple and any children they have. Good marriages benefit the community and for many people express values of long-term commitment, generativity, and faithfulness. In terms of these values, there is no difference between same sex and opposite sex marriage.
Progressive Christians see marriage equality as a spiritual and ethical imperative. The over-riding message of Christian faith is that we called to practise justice and compassion, and to welcome and those who are marginalised and oppressed.The biblical call to
love our neighbours as ourselves provides the mandate for marriage equality.
But the Bible says very little about marriage, as we understand it today, and nothing at all about same sex marriage. The texts that are used to condemn homosexual acts were written by people who had no understanding that human sexual orientation is a continuum. They also thought that the earth wasflat and that demons caused illness. Marriage in the Old Testament included polygamy and sexual relationships with slaves. Rape victims were required to marry rapists. Marriage in the New Testament encouraged celibacy, forbade divorce, and required subordination of women.The biblical texts have nothing to say about people who experience same sex attraction and love and who wish to commit themselves publically to one another, and to receive the benefits and protections available to citizens in such relationships.
For conservative religious people who do not support same sex relationships, changes to civil marriage
legislation represent no danger. New Zealand is a secular county and even religious New Zealanders differ widely in their understandings of sexuality and marriage. No single religious voice can speak for all traditions.
The current law allows for religious groups to hold their own beliefs about marriage and to have the right to discern who is eligible for marriage in their own tradition. This right will remain under the new law. No church will have to perform a same sex marriage, but those who decide to will be free to do so. The best way to protect religious freedom is to ensure separation of church and state when it comes to equality under the law.
Sadly this proposed legislation is generating more heat than light from people of faith. The same people who fiercely opposed civil unions are now hypocritically saying that civil unions protect families. The scaremongering about adoption is reprehensible. Thousands of kiwi children are growing up parented by gay and lesbian people.
The law already allows gay and lesbian people to adopt as individuals, just not as a couple. Diverse families are the reality and mainstream research shows that children raised in gay and lesbian families do just as well as children raised by opposite sex parents. Love is what matters.
It is equality that the majority of New Zealanders, gay and straight, want for our nation. Legal protection, social and religious recognition are all important.Marriage equality is good for New Zealand couples, families, children and society.