Mana Party divided over gay marriage

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 10:15 21/06/2012
Hone Harawira
HONE HARAWIRA: Says his personal views on a range of moral issues are "relatively conservative".

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The Mana Party faces its first internal struggle as it tries to convince leader Hone Harawira to support gay marriage.

The Greens and Labour have both drafted members' bills that would legalise same-sex marriage and a recent poll showed more than 60 per cent of New Zealanders support the move.

Prime Minister John Key has said he would be happy to vote for the first reading of a bill, but said it was not a priority.

The bills would first have to be drawn from the ballot and was then likely to be a conscience issue, meaning MPs could choose how to vote rather than following the party line.

However, division within the left-wing Mana Party is likely to cause conflict.

Mr Harawira has voiced opposition to same-sex marriage in the past and said yesterday that it was one of the issues the party was yet to discuss.

''At that point we'll make a decision as to what my views are going to be in the House and I'll be comfortable with it because Mana is bigger than me.''

He said his personal views on a range of moral issues were ''relatively conservative''.

''I have personal concerns on many issues including poverty, including education, including health, including joblessness, including how many of our people are going across to Australia,'' he said.

The former Labour-led Government passed a law allowing civil unions between same-sex couples in 2004.

Gay marriage has become an hot topic internationally since United States President Barack Obama announced his personal support for it.

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- The Dominion Post

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