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Coroner made submission against marriage rights

Mon 4 Mar 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News

There is heavy criticism of the Coroner who investigated the suicide of a gay soldier in Afghanistan, after revelations he is a senior leader in the Mormon church who made a submissions against marriage equality. Gordon Matenga has declined a full inquest into the death of Corporal Douglas Hughes and suppressed all details of a Court of Inquiry into the case. This has been criticised by the soldier’s family who want their claims Corporal Hughes was being mocked and bullied about his sexuality by colleagues before he took his own life fully investigated. Coroner Matenga is a senior figure in the Mormon church who made a submission to Parliament on the marriage equality bill, saying marriage equality was an unnecessary "social experiment". "Changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry is completely unnecessary and would serve no useful purpose," he said. "A man and a woman are required to produce children. To allow same-sex couples to marry is a social experiment. There is no evidence to suggest that children will not be affected by it." Reaction has been swift on social media to the revelation, with many in the GLBT community expressing disgust and concern that personal views could be impacting a public job. The Coroner has already been carefully reprimanded by Attorney-General Chris Finlayson, who said: "It would be wise for members of the bench to avoid submitting on issues that could be seen as politically contentious." Labour Deputy Leader and Rainbow Labour MP Grant Robertson says the Attorney General is right. “People in quasi-judicial roles should not make submissions on controversial legislation, because of exactly this type of situation.” Robertson is backing the call of his colleague Phil Goff for an open inquest, “with a different coroner for the sake of Douglas Hughes family and to ensure this type of tragedy is avoided in the future”. If you need support due to any issues raised in this story, you can call 0800 OUTLINE. Did you know Douglas Hughes and want to speak up? Email news@gaynz.com.    

Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff

First published: Monday, 4th March 2013 - 9:51am

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