The passage of New Zealand’s same-sex marriage bill was met with thunderous applause last night as it passed with 77 votes to 44.
Hundreds of gay marriage advocates in the public gallery then broke out into song, singing the New Zealand love song Pokarekare Ana in the indigenous Maori language.
Labour Party MP Louisa Wall (pictured) sponsored the bill which received cross-party from the centre-right Prime Minister John Key.
“My view has been that if two gay people want to get married then I can’t see why it would undermine my marriage,” Key said last year.
New Zealand is the 13th country to allow same-sex marriage, just days after Uruguay’s lawmakers also legalised marriage equality.
Most parties allowed a conscience vote on the issue.
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said approximately 1,000 Australian gay couples had indicated they would get married in New Zealand since last Friday.
“The majority of Australians who support marriage equality will be happy for New Zealand but deeply embarrassed their own country is lagging so far behind,” Croome said.
PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) national spokeswoman Shelley Argent OAM said she envied the forward thinking parliament in New Zealand and families with same-sex couples would finally receive the recognition they deserved.
“Their relationships will be seen as equal to their siblings and society generally. And couples can now be official members of their partner’s family,” Argent said.
“New Zealand parents must be overjoyed with this legislation.”
Argent went on to attack the Coalition in Australia, saying that PFLAG was being ignored by Coalition MPs.
“Meanwhile, the opposition here who are likely to become the government in September continues to have a policy that prevents equality in this country,” she said.
“Coalition MPs are claiming they are too busy to meet with us, when we have requested meetings with them to discuss the changes happening worldwide. Meanwhile, our sons and daughters continue to languish as second rate citizens.”
Equal Love, the national advocacy group behind the nation’s rallies for gay marriage, said Australia was languishing behind on the issue.
Equal Love spokesperson Anthony Wallace said the ALP was sending out mixed messages on marriage equality.
“They stand for it as a policy but their senior leaders vote against it?” he said.
“Changing the marriage act to allow for equal marriage rights has been passed as a preferred Labor party platform so Labor should be taking a firm and determined course of action to see those changes pass in Parliament.”
New Zealand has had civil unions since 2005 but the new laws will allow same-sex couples to adopt and have overseas marriages recognised locally.