President Barack Obama made a huge announcement on Wednesday, stating that he supported equal marriage rights for gay couples. His announcement set a global standard that many hope will begin to make changes to policies in countries around the world. As the Associated Press reports:
“This is incredibly important, it’s excellent news. The United States is a global leader on everything, and that includes gay rights,” said Julio Moreira, president of the Rio de Janeiro-based Arco-Iris gay rights group. “This will force other nations like Brazil to move forward with more progressive policies.”
While a scant few countries, such as Argentina, allow same-sex marriages, a vast swath of countries have no legislation that supports marriage equality, including New Zealand. In the wake of President Obama’s announcement, which has roiled many conservative factions in the last day or so, other world leaders have been called upon to make similar announcements regarding their stance on gay marriage.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister, John Key, announced on Thursday that he is “not personally opposed to gay marriage,” according to a statement he gave to the Associated Press. But Key also stated that he felt there was no big push for a change in marriage legislation in the country.
Key has regularly attended The Big Gay Out, an LGBT festival held annually in New Zealand. According to Gay New Zealand, Key has attended every year since his election in 2008. Earlier this year at the Big Gay Out festivities, GayNZ.com caught the PM to ask him a few questions about his stance on pushing for marriage equality legislation.
In the article he was quoted as stating that same-sex marriage rights were unlikely to progress in the near future. He further stated to GayNZ.com that, “the days when people are discriminated against because they’re gay or lesbian or transgender are well and truly gone.” While Key remains, in principle, a firm supporter of gay rights, he seems reticent to acknowledge the continued discrimination that continues for same-sex couples in the current global climate.
Key leads the National Party and won his seat in 2008 on a platform of “change,” similar to that of President Obama in the United States. The opposition leader of the Labour party, David Shearer, also made an announcement on Thursday stating that he expressed support of gay marriage equality, but he stated that he would need to see the legislation before signing it into law, according to information garnered by the Associated Press.
Both political leaders in New Zealand are taking rather neutral stances on the issue, which allows them to navigate around actually initiating any kind of change on the state of marriage equality in the country. New Zealand does allow civil unions between two people of the same sex, legislation that passed in 2004, a small gain for the LGBT community.
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