Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Civil unions in New Zealand
On 9 December 2004 New Zealand Parliament passed the Civil Union Bill, establishing the new institution of civil union, available to same-sex and de facto couples. The Civil Union Act has been described as a copy of the Marriage Act with "marriage" replaced by "civil union". Its companion bill, the Relationships (Statutory References) Act, was to remove discriminatory provisions from a large number of pieces of legislation, but has run into stumbling blocks in Parliament and has been shelved until 2005. Both the Civil Union Bill and the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill were drafted by the Labour MP, David Benson-Pope.
The Civil Union Bill passed by 65 votes to 55. The bill was treated as a conscience issue by most parties, including the largest parties on the left and right. The table below shows the breakdown of votes by party.
|Party||Voted For||Voted Against|
|New Zealand First||1||12|
During consideration of the bill, proposals were made to bring the question to a binding referendum or to replace the bill with a "civil relationships" bill that would allow any two people to register any personal relationship and gain joint property rights. These proposals were dismissed by supporters of the bill as delaying tactics rather than serious proposals and were defeated in Parliament by a block vote of Labour, the Greens, and the Progressives.
The New Zealand public have largely supported the bill, with opinion polls indicating around 56% of New Zealanders are in favour. The bill has, however, been quite controversial, with strong opposition from groups such as the evangelical Destiny Church and the Catholic Church in New Zealand. However, not all Christians were opposed to the Bill. Christians for Civil Unions played an important role in the debates.
Civil unions will come into effect on April 26, 2005.
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