Luxury venue Stoneridge Estate ends ban on same-sex weddings in on-site chapel
A luxury Queenstown wedding venue is dropping its ban on gay couples marrying in its on-site chapel, with its owner conceding the policy - based on his mum's religious views - is out of touch.
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Stoneridge Estate has hosted nearly 100 same-sex wedding ceremonies and receptions - including one which featured on TV show Married at First Sight - but until now, it's blocked them from taking place in its chapel.
Same-sex ceremonies have instead taken place in the gardens and lodge.
Owner Wayne Gore says the policy is based on the views of his mother, Da Vella Gore, who holds a lifetime lease over the chapel, which was built in 2004.
"We have never not supported same-sex weddings at the property," he says."However, my mother of 80 years old, has held the historic Christian understanding of marriage as the loving, faithful union of a man and a woman ... She believes her wedding chapel has been a gift from God and remains true to her convictions in terms of her Christian faith."
However, after Stuff contacted him on Friday, Gore said his mother conceded her views were "not harmonious with the operating [of] a wedding venue".
"As of now, we will amend our venue contracts, which at this time state that due to my mother's position she prefers the chapel not be used for same sex weddings.
"She has reconsidered her position ... on same-sex weddings in her chapel. She has accepted that Stoneridge Estate has developed a wedding business around the use of the chapel and that it cannot be separated now due to her personal beliefs."
He said no one had ever complained about the policy, but "maybe one couple who have enquired [last] weekend were 'put out' by my mother's position".
In 2016, Lyttelton's Living Springs venue lifted its ban on gay weddings after a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.
Under the Human Rights Act, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is prohibited. That includes service providers, like those hiring out a venue.
A wedding celebrant, who asked to remain anonymous, said policies against same-sex couples were "an issue in wedding venues across the country".
"Thankfully it's in the minority and most places are welcoming of love in all forms."
She added: "Couples should check the fine print in the paperwork, same sex or not."
Same-sex marriage has been legal in New Zealand since 2013, while civil unions were legalised in 2005.
Since then, New Zealand has become a wedding destination for gay couples, particularly Australians.
Last year, 483 New Zealand resident couples and 471 overseas resident couples celebrated same-sex marriages or civil unions.
A further 19,752 resident couples and 2490 overseas couples celebrated opposite-sex marriages or civil unions.
Couples from Australia accounted for 58 per cent of overseas same-sex couples coming here to marry.