A Select Committee has recommended Parliament approve a bill as part of the Marriage Act, but with an amendment that would protect “people’s religious freedoms”.

The report from the committee, of which the majority believed marriage was a human right, said: “The bill seeks to extend the legal right to marry to same-sex couples; it does not seek to interfere with people’s religious freedoms.”

Labour MP Louisa Wall, who was the sponsor of the bill, said this was a major step towards a more equal New Zealand.

“Marriage equality is about fairness and choice,” Wall said. “This process has showed that that message has really resonated with New Zealanders and has been echoed overseas with the recent passage of similar legislation in the UK.”

The committee said it received 21,533 submissions on the bill, 2898 of which had unique content – 10,487 of the submissions were in favour and 8148 were against the bill.

The bill will be read again on March 13 – it was passed 80 votes to 40 on its first outing in parliament. 

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