Template:Merge Template:SSM New Zealand does not allow same-sex marriage, but allows civil unions that provide virtually all the rights and responsibilities of marriage but there are no obstacles to eventual reform such as statutory prohibitions against same-sex marriage.

On immigration to New Zealand, couples that have same-sex marriages from countries that allow them may have their marriages recognised as a de facto partnership, but only specific forms of overseas registered partnerships are recognised as the legal equivalent of a New Zealand civil union. As of 2005, this only concerns registered partnerships from Finland, Germany, the United Kingdom and the US states of Vermont and New Jersey.[1] Adoptions by same-sex couples are also not legal, although debate continues about eventual legislative reform in this area.

During the 2005 election, Prime Minister Helen Clark admitted that she thought it was discriminatory to exclude same-sex couples from the Marriage Act 1955, but said she would not push to change it.[2]

On July 2,2007, George Ireland of Auckland's Milne Ireland Walker legal firm was asked for his opinion on current matters related to same-sex marriage in Sweden, which may result in LGBT access to fully fledged marriage as opposed to the parallel spousal rights and responsibilities legislation that allows for civil unions, which have existed there since the early nineties. He suggested that given the New Zealand Labour Party-led government's strong record on rights for LGBT New Zealanders, such change would probably occur. Destiny New Zealand party president Richard Lewis agreed, from a negative and social conservative perspective.[1]

Failure of Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill: December 2005

In 2005, United Future MP Gordon Copeland sponsored the Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill that would have amended the Marriage Act to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, and amend anti-discrimination protections in the Bill of Rights related to marital and family status so that the bill could stand. This move was strongly criticised by opponents of the legislation, such as then-Attorney General Michael Cullen as an overly 'radical' attack on the Bill of Rights.

The bill also would have prohibited the recognition of same-sex marriages from foreign countries as marriages in New Zealand. However, it was voted down by a large margin (47 in favour, 73 against) on December 7, 2005. MPs who opposed the bill said they considered it unnecessary and MP Katherine Rich called the bill a "cheap political stunt" meant to appeal to "banjo-playing redneck homophobe(s)". Since the failure of the Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill, there has been no public debate about further legislative reforms or prohibition of same sex marriage within, or outside, New Zealand's Parliament. The Kiwi Party has kept silent about whether or not it would sanction a revival of its earlier failed private members bill, given that proponents of the ban Gordon Copeland and Larry Baldock are founding members of the party, as has the other New Zealand fundamentalist political party, the Family Party. Neither are expected to hold any seats in New Zealand's Parliament after the forthcoming general election, expected in October or November 2008.


If a post-operative transsexual marries someone of the opposite sex to the one that they had been reassigned to, that is considered a legal marriage under the Marriage Act 1955. This was decided by the M v H [1995] case in Otahuhu (Auckland)'s Family Court, and later upheld in New Zealand's Court of Appeal. This means that while pre-operative transpeople can contract civil unions, they cannot get married to a person of the gender opposite their gender identity, unlike their post-operative counterparts.

Public Opinion

A New Zealand Herald poll found that 40% of New Zealanders supported gay marriage. There appear to be generational discrepancies in support, given that younger cohorts supported an end to discriminatory marriage laws, while older cohorts do not support such reform[3]

See also

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  1. Gay Moves Worry Church. New Zealand Herald (2007-07-02).