The New Zealand Minister of Justice, who previously voted against the country’s civil union legislation, has now come out in favour of marriage equality, same-sex couples adopting and legal recognition of gender identity for trans people.

As reported by GayNZ.com, this is a big volt-face for the Honourable Judith Collins, who once raised the question of whether same-sex unions were a human rights issue at all.

Nearly a decade ago when the Care of Children Act was being debated, Ms Collins stated: “Accepting the diversity of New Zealand families does not mean advocacy for same-sex parenting situations. And it certainly does not mean a same-sex partner should have the same rights as a father.”

On the subject of gender identity, she once said: “there is no need to make any person a protected species.”

However, speaking to GayNZ.com Daily News this week, Ms Collins said that she had “no problem” with marriage equality, “no particular problem” with same-sex couples legally adopting children and in the recognition of respecting gender identities said: “It doesn’t hurt for us to acknowledge people’s diversity – it actually helps us.”

She added: “Frankly it would be really nice if we could look at people as human beings rather than be always saying ‘you can’t do that because you’re gay’ or whatever.”

A private members’ bill on the subject of marriage equality – introduced by openly gay MP Louisa Wall –  is looking to be introduced to the Parliament next week.

Policy around gender identity is still muddied and in need of clarification, and New Zealand’s adoption laws – made in the 1950s – will, it’s generally agreed, be the hardest to bring into the 21st century.