Media Release 3 February 2017
Family First NZ says that people applying to be marriage celebrants are having their applications rejected if they do not want to officiate at same-sex ‘weddings’ due to their personal beliefs or convictions, despite assurances by politicians that this would not occur.
In response to a request by Family First NZ to the Department of Internal Affairs under the Official Information Act, 22 potential marriage celebrants have had their applications declined just in the last year because they have stated that they don’t want to officiate at same-sex weddings due to personal conviction.
“This flies directly in the face of assurances made by Labour MP Louisa Wall when she introduced the bill to Parliament. She said ‘…What my bill does not do is require any person… to carry out a marriage if it does not fit with the beliefs of the celebrant.’ When the Bill was rushed through to its final reading, it still did not protect the consciences of independent marriage celebrants who are not lawfully able to refuse a request to marry a same-sex couple by reason of the same-sex of the couple,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
The report of the Government Administration Select Committee considering the bill at the time stated: ‘It is our intention that the passage of this bill should not impact negatively upon people’s religious freedoms… it does not seek to interfere with people’s religious freedoms.’
“Yet, as Family First NZ argued at the time based on legal advice, the advice of the Crown Law Office and the Ministry of Justice and the resultant recommendation of the Select Committee would interfere with people’s rights to act according to their beliefs and conscience. Once again, Family First concerns and the legal advice have been proven right and justified. The legal advice referred to the exemptions as ‘unprincipled’, and ‘discriminatory’.”
“It is interesting to note that both the Prime Minister Bill English and Minister of Justice Amy Adams voted for a proposed amendment which would have allowed for freedom of religion and belief,” says Mr McCoskrie.
In an independent poll of 1,000 people undertaken by Curia Market Research just before the bill was passed in 2013, the poll found strong support for protecting those whose beliefs and conscience disagreed with same-sex ‘marriage’. 80% of respondents said that marriage celebrants should not be forced to perform same-sex weddings if they go against their personal convictions.
The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act states that everybody has the right of freedom of religion and belief, and the right to manifest that belief or view. A legal opinion obtained by Family First about the effects of the proposal law change said; “Such coercion by the State is contrary to ss13 and 15 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990’.”
“This law currently provides a culture of coercion whereby celebrants or registrars will not be lawfully able to refuse to perform a same-sex marriage by reason of the same-sex of the couple, despite the politicians promising otherwise. Despite all the hype and sales pitch, this significant social change has failed to deliver what was promised, and politicians who support the right of freedom of religion and belief should fix the anomaly.”