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MP offers apology for "offensive" questioning

Tue 22 Jan 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi MP Controversial National MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi has offered up an apology in the wake of asking questions at a select committee hearing into the marriage equality bill which offended two gay men giving verbal evidence. "If you get married, who will be identified as husband, and who will be identified as wife?" Bakshi asked gay couple Des Smith and John Jolliff when verbal hearings opened in Wellington before Christmas. He also expressed concern about how a married same-sex couple would have "the children." The couple were so offended by the questions that have called for him to be removed from the committee tasked with reporting back to Parliament on public opinion and feedback on the bill. "If anyone was offended then I apologise," Bakshi said in an unprompted comment to Daily News during a break from the committee's Auckland hearings this evening. "It was not my intention to offend anyone," he said, adding that, despite doubts expressed by fellow-committee member Kevin Hague, he has approached the hearings "with an open mind." "I just wanted to understand, to ask questions, to clarify for myself," he said. Bakshi told Daily News earlier in the day that he had learned during the select committee process of the value placed on human rights "and I respect everyone." "That's the reason I asked the Tongans how you tackle the people of a homosexual background... do you discriminate against them or do you adopt them within society and they said 'we don't discriminate.' Because the issue I think is that nobody should be discriminated. And I respect a lesbian or a gay or a homosexual and my only concern is the marriage has always been between a man and a woman." Bakshi says his opposition to the bill, which seeks to broaden the language of the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples, remains. "I am not convinced so far that there is any reason that this definition should be changed and I am still on that track. I am listening carefully... If I am convinced I might change my mind but so far I am not." The conservative MP says he doesn't believe that the legal barring of same-sex couples from getting married makes gays and lesbians second-class citizens. "There is a provision in civil unions," he says. "If you think that there is something that is left out of civil unions then that can be amended." Asked if he believed he understands the nature of a same-sex relationship he replied "I won't say much on how a relationship goes because that is personal to someone so I don't want to discuss that issue at all."    

Credit: Daily News

First published: Tuesday, 22nd January 2013 - 11:50pm

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