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MP dismisses Right to Life 'muzzle' claims

Mon 13 Aug 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News

Charles Chauvel Labour MP Charles Chauvel says there is “nothing shady” about his request for Right to Life to send him its rules, so he can see whether it actually has a mandate to comment on the issue of marriage equality. The anti-abortion and euthanasia group has sent a letter to every MP outlining its opposition to Louisa Wall’s bill redefining marriage. Gay Labour MP Charles Chauvel has responded with the request:L “Please provide me with a copy of the Right to Life New Zealand Inc’s articles of incorporation so I can satisfy myself of its mandate to comment on this issue.” Right to Life’s spokesman Ken Orr says he’s “appalled and disappointed” that an MP would challenge the right of any organisation to make comment on a Private Member’s Bill soon to be debated in Parliament. “Right to Life respects the right of the’ homosexual lobby group’ to be heard in its promotion of same sex marriage,” Orr adds. “Right to Life and those who defend marriage and oppose it being redefined ask only that our right to free speech also be respected.” He is backed up by anti-equality group Family First, whose spokesman Bob McCoskrie says: “This seems like a thinly veiled threat to muzzle a pro-marriage group who he may personally disagree with, and perhaps even attempt to get them de-registered from the Charities Commission.” Chauvel says there is nothing shady about his request, pointing out Right to Life is a well-known anti-abortion group, whose views he respects, although he disagrees with them. “They wrote to all MPs opposing marriage equality and claiming support from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for their position. I replied, asking for the ECHR reference, since they didn't give it and I doubt it exists,” he explains in a Facebook post questioning his actions. “I also asked them to indicate their authority, as an anti-abortion group, for commenting on the marriage equality issue. How on earth is that trying to muzzle anyone?” Chauvel says he is all for people expressing their views, but points out he knows a lot of people who oppose abortion, yet support marriage equality. “If a legally incorporated group set up for the former purpose suddenly starts opposing the latter cause, including by writing to every MP, I think I'm entitled to ask them to show that they have the support of their membership to do so. “Instead of receiving a reply to my request, I've been attacked by another group - Family First - for making it in the first place. So tell me this - on the facts, who is trying to shut down the debate?” Meanwhile, Orr says Right to Life will not be deterred from “its defence of the institution of marriage” and will vigorously oppose attempts to redefine marriage as to include two men or two women. “Right to Life reserves its right as an incorporated society to correctly interpret its aims and objects to include the defence of marriage, an institution in which children are conceived and nurtured for the enrichment and continuance of society. This is an important life issue.” You can discuss this gay New Zealand community news story on the Forum here    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Monday, 13th August 2012 - 11:32am

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