MP Looks to Provide Certainty for Freedoms of Religious Belief & Expression

Labour MP for Mangere Su’a William Sio will introduce a Supplementary Order Paper into Parliament to amend the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill to provide greater certainty and assurances for freedoms of religious belief and expression.

“If it is the will of Parliament that the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill is passed, then it becomes important for the House to pass my amendment in order to create a balance between religious freedoms and the same sex marriage freedoms the Bill will provide.

“I want to make sure that Parliament has the opportunity to address the genuine concerns that many in the faith community have if the Bill granting marriage rights to same sex couples is passed.

“It’s my intention to amend the Bill to make appropriate distinction between the affairs of the State – protecting the equality rights of all citizens – and the affairs of a Church and how it conducts those affairs with its members whom have a traditional view of marriage.

My amendments aligns with the statements by the Select Committee statement in its report: – “It is our intention that the passage of this Bill should not impact negatively upon people’s religious freedoms.”

While the Bill as reported from the Select Committee protected celebrants from performing marriages of same sex couples if to do so would contravene the beliefs of the religion of which they are an officiator, my amendments provide further necessary protections;

  • To protect religiously affiliated celebrants if their personal beliefs are that marriage must be between a man and a woman ; even if their religion is not absolutely against same sex marriages.
  • To allow persons and organisations to  express views (preach & publish) that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and to provide or refuse to provide counselling and guidance accordingly.
  • To provide for religious organisations to refuse to allow their premises that are used for religious purposes to be used for marriages that are not between a man and a woman.

“My SOP is a genuine approach to ensure greater certainty for the protection of peoples freedoms of religious beliefs and to balance that with the rights that this Bill will bestow to same sex couples and seeks to avoid potential and unintended conflicts in the future within our communities”, said Su’a William Sio

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