In the wake of vehement protests from several Indian and religious organisations (especially Muslim associations), the Marriage Amendment Bill proposed by Labour Party MP Louisa Wall passed its first reading in Parliament on September 4.
Overjoyed with the unexpected 80 votes instead of 61, Wall must have won the first step of her battle to secure equal marriage rights for couples of the same-sex but the bill still remains a grave concern for the ones who have been opposing it from the time of its inception.
Anwar Ghani, president of The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) told Indian Weekender that now that the bill has passed the first stage in Parliament, the people who are against it will stick to their guns too and go ahead and do what it takes to register their concerns. “The opposition is not on a personal level. We are followers of Islam and Islam has very strict restrictions about a few things. Marriage is supposed to be between two sectors – men and women and it’s not just a matter of recreation but procreation,” Ghani said.
Having said that, Ghani also assured that Muslims are law abiding citizens and would not do anything against the law. “As long as religious groups will not be forced to follow this law in particular and be allowed to do what they believe in, it should be fine,” he opined.
Treading an uber sensitive path, the destiny of the Marriage Amendment Bill is yet to be known. But whatever the result, the bill is sure to continue to invite a good amount of furor in days to come.
Echoing an equally strong opposition, New Zealand Central Indian Association president Paul Singh Bains and Nafis Akhtar, president of the Urdu Hindi Cultural Association of New Zealand had already spoken to Indian Weekender on August 24 about the “unethical and unnatural” nature of the bill as per religious beliefs. Akhtar had also gone on to strongly dispute marriage being a social institution alone and had said that it was more of a religious and civil sacrament.
He further emphasized how same-sex marriage goes against the fundamental belief of a relationship that is recognized across cultures, countries and religions.