New Zealand legalizes gay marriage

New Zealand has become the first country in the Asia-Pacific region, and the 13th country in the world, to legalize gay marriage.

The third reading of a marriage equality bill was held in the New Zealand parliament today (Wednesday 17 April) and was passed by 77 MPs’ votes to 44.


‘Excluding one group from marriage is oppressive and unacceptable,’ said the Bill’s sponsor Labour MP Louisa Wall, who was wearing a rainbow top for the occasion, when introducing the Bill.

‘Nothing could make me more proud to be a New Zealander than passing this bill.’

The speeches before the vote were overwhelmingly celebratory in tone, marking the vote as a historic milestone for civil rights in New Zealand.

National MP Maurice Williamson said ‘a big gay rainbow’ across his electorate was a ‘sign’ that the bill would be passed today.

Fellow National MP Jami-Lee Ross gave a less jokey but just as supportive speech in favor of the Bill.

‘Nobody gets hurt when gay couples say they’re married, but gay couples who want to be married are hurt when they are kept from marrying by the state,’ said Ross, who added that referendums are inappropriate for minority issues.

Gay Labour MP Grant Robertson shared a personal story about the hope the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Act, which decriminalized sex between men, gave him as a teenager in 1986.

Green Party MP Kevin Hague pointed out that when he met his partner 28 years ago their relationship was illegal. He said he is happy to see gay relationships being officially sanctioned in his lifetime, but regrets that his parents didn’t live to see this day.

‘With this bill, Parliament stretches out its arms … and says “you belong”,’ said Hague.

-continue reading at  Gay Star News.

New Zealand is the 13th country to pass equal marriage legislation, but two others have it by the back door, by court ruling. In Mexico, Mexico City and two other states have approved gay marriage for their own areas, but most of the country has not. But because the courts have ruled that all marriages must be recognized by all states, any couple unable to marry in their own state, can do so legally and have the marriage recognized, simply by holding the wedding in one of the three states where it is legal. In Brazil, courts first ruled that the constitution requirement for equal treatment requires that same – sex couples must have  civil unions, with all the rights and benefits of full marriage. In a later decision, it was ruled that any couple with a civil union could have it recognized as full marriage in the eyes of the law. So de facto, full legal recognition of same – sex marriage is available in both Mexico and Brazil.

In addition to New Zealand, parliaments in France and Uruguay have also approved equality legislation this month, the Irish consitutional convention voted overwhelmingly to recommend a change in the country’s constitution to permit it, Colombia is obliged by court decision to approve it by mid-year, and the British parliament is currently engaged in committee stage debates on legislation for the UK, which is expected to pass.

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