McVicar's gay marriage talk rejected

20:29, Jan 21 2013
tdn garth stand
Sensible Sentencing Trust's Garth McVicar

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has distanced itself from comments by its leader alleging crime will rise if gay people are allowed to marry.

Head of the victim's lobby group Garth McVicar submitted to Parliament that changing the law to allow same-sex marriage will be yet another erosion of basic morals and values in society which have led to an escalation of child abuse, domestic violence and an ever-increasing prison population.

"The marriage amendment bill will not benefit society at all and will ultimately have detremetal (sic) effect on crime at all levels," the submission read.

McVicar's comments were lambasted yesterday on social media, with a Sunday Star-Times article shared more than 5500 times on Facebook by this morning.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust issued a statement today clarifying its position.

"The Sensible Sentencing Trust wishes to clarify that the recent submission regarding the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill was made by Garth McVicar in a personal capacity and does not represent the view of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, or the wide range of views our members will no doubt have on the issue," it said in a message on its website from McVicar's second-in-command Ruth Money.

Labour MP Louisa Wall's Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill is currently before a select committee which will report to Parliament on February 28. If passed, it could see gay marriage legal by May next year.

The committee has received over 20,000 submissions on the bill.

Green MP Kevin Hague, who sits on the select committee, said after reading the vast majority of submissions, McVicar's was the only one linking crime to gay marriage.

"Although it echoes a number of submissions that say marriage has been the same way for a long time and that if you tamper with it there will be lots of unforeseen circumstances," Hague said.

Criminologist Dr James Oleson, an Auckland University expert in deviance, said he was not familiar with any research that would suggest homosexuals would be responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime.

For McVicar's argument to be plausible, he said, it would have to be proved that allowing homosexuals to marry degraded morality, and that this produced more crime. The more common drivers of crime were economic issues, alcohol, drugs, education and employment and family dysfunction, Oleson said.

McVicar did not respond to requests for comment.