Denying homosexuals the right to marry is denying them basic human rights, Labour MP Louisa Wall says.
Ms Wall gave the opening submission on her Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill today which would clear the way for gay marriage in New Zealand.
The bill was understood to have already attracted more than 20,000 submissions and was expected to face stiff opposition from conservative and religious groups.
Ms Wall told the government administration select committee marriage was a birthright which should be available to all New Zealanders.
"Your sexual determination should not limit your citizenship rights," she said.
Many of the opponents of the bill were of an older generation who had not moved past reforms of the past 20 years, she said, and younger generations appeared to overwhelmingly support the change.
"They can't see what the problem is."
She hoped the debate would not get ugly but the bill had already faced opposition in the committee from National MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi.
"I respect human rights for everyone - but marriage is between a man and a woman," Mr Bakshi said.
"Can't we fix it another way?"
The bill passed its first reading in a parliamentary conscience vote with a two-to-one majority in August.
Submissions for the bill closed on October 26 and a report is due from the committee on February 28.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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