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Justice Minister now pro gay equality, marriage

Mon 20 Aug 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Hon. Judith Collins In a remarkable change in her attitude to equality for glbt people, senior government figure and Minister of Justice Judith Collins has voiced her support for marriage equality, legal adoption by same sex couples and legal recognition of a person's gender identity which may have changed since their birth. It’s a major turnaround for Collins, who voted against the Civil Union legislation and the accompanying Relationships (Statutory References) Act, and questioned whether gay unions were a human rights issue at all. During the 2003 Care of Children Act debate, she stated: "Accepting the diversity of New Zealand families does not mean advocacy for same-sex parenting situations. And it certainly does not mean a same-sex partner should have the same rights as a father." On Gender Identity Discrimination, she was previously of the opinion that "there is no need to make any person a protected species." But, speaking briefly to Daily News yesterday afternoon as she left Auckland's Aotea Centre after helping open a Human Rights Commission conference encouraging diversity and 'a fair go for all,' Collins said of marriage equality: "I've got no problem with it." On enabling same-sex couples to legally adopt children she responded: "I've got no particular problem with that either." And regarding appropriate recognition of minority gender identities: "It doesn't hurt for us to acknowledge people's diversity... it actually helps us." Asked if she felt glbt people in New Zealand are generally getting, in the words of the Human Rights Commission conference theme, "a fair go for all," Collins said: "There are some issues that need to be dealt with. Frankly it would be really nice if we could look at people as human beings rather than be always saying 'you can't do that because you're gay' or whatever." Equality in marriage is the aim of a private members' bill introduced by lesbian MP Louisa Wall which is expected to be introduced to Parliament early next week. Consistent policy around gender identity such as government forms and documentation and appropriate prison assignment for transgender prisoners is still generally considered inadequate and inconsistent. And a change of New Zealand's archaic 1950s-era adoption laws still seems some way off.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Monday, 20th August 2012 - 7:51pm

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