50,000 sign petition against gay marriage

Opponents of a bill to legalise same-sex marriage have delivered a petition with 50,000 signatures to Parliament.

The protesters, led by conservative lobby group Family First, wanted marriage to remain between a man and a woman.

The group was met on Parliament steps by Labour MPs Su'a William Sio and Ross Robertson, and National MP Alfred Ngaro who opposed the bill, and New Zealand First MP Asenati Lole-Taylor, who wanted a referendum on the issue.

Family First founder Bob McCoskrie said he had been expecting about 10,000 signatures, and had been surprised by the number of responses he had received in a month.

He told reporters: "The argument is that same-sex couples deserve legal recognition. We've got no problem with that. But they've already got it, it's called civil unions.

"We don't need to change the definition of marriage to achieve legal recognition."

He said polls which showed the majority of New Zealanders supported gay marriage were misleading.

"If you asked 'Should same-sex couples have legal recognition?', people would support that. If you asked 'Should we change the definition of marriage?', it swings in the other direction."

Family First was joined by Lifechurch Manurewa pastor Lui Ponifasio, one 25 south Auckland pastors who signed a letter to Labour MP Louisa Wall, urging her to scrap her bill.

Ms Wall's private member's bill was expected to be debated and voted on in Parliament tomorrow.

- by Isaac Davison of the NZ Herald

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