New Zealand legalises gay marriage

Wellington New ZealandNew Zealand has become the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to legalise gay marriage.

The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill passed its third and final reading in the New Zealand Parliament earlier this week by a large majority – 77 votes in favour versus only 44 against, precisely the same ratio achieved by the bill’s second reading in March.

MPs were once again given a free vote, the BBC reports. The measure had the support of both Prime Minister John Key and Leader of the Opposition David Shearer.

The vote was met with jubilation by supporters of the legislation. Spectators in the public gallery began to sing traditional Maori love song Pokarekare Ana, prompting some MPs to join in.

The bill, which amends the 1955 Marriage Act, was introduced by Louisa Wall of the New Zealand Labour Party. She said:

“In our society, the meaning of marriage is universal – it’s a declaration of love and commitment to a special person. Nothing could make me more proud to be a New Zealander than passing this bill”.

While celebrations began in capital city Wellington Jake Andrew recalled the reaction to the vote at a club in Hamilton.He told the BBC: “We cheered, yelled, cried and sang – it was just amazing. I am so happy, not only because I can now marry the person I love, but because New Zealand has moved a step further towards gay and lesbian people becoming completely equal with the rest of our society.”

To date, New Zealand is the 13th country in the world to legalise gay marriage. Civil partnerships were introduced in 2005

Photo of Wellington by Jacques Marier via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence


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