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dc.contributor.advisorWanhalla, Angela
dc.contributor.advisorStevens, Michael
dc.contributor.authorVerry, Emma Louise
dc.identifier.citationVerry, E. L. (2016). A Right to Marriage: The Emergence of Human Rights Discourse in Debate over Marriage Equality in Aotearoa/New Zealand 1986-2013 (Thesis, Master of Arts). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractThis thesis examines the emergence of human rights discourse in debate over marriage equality in Aotearoa/New Zealand, focusing on four key pieces of legislation enacted between 1986 and 2013: the Homosexual Law Reform Bill, the Human Rights Bill; the Civil Union Bill; and the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill (Amendment Bill). By mapping the language, or discourse used to frame these legislative reforms, I argue that over this time period a fundamental shift occurred, whereby marriage once viewed as an “institution” was increasingly seen as a “human right.” This shift can be attributed to the importance placed on individual human rights by the neo-liberal Fourth Labour Government, who put in place the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and initiated processes that led to the National Government sponsored Human Rights Bill in 1993. It also drew from an evolution in New Zealanders beliefs about the importance of human rights that increasingly encompassed the protection of sexual identities, eventually enabling the recognition of same-sex relationships through the successful passage of the Civil Union Bill in 2004, and the Amendment Bill in 2013. While the Civil Union Bill, which provided same-sex couples with a number of the rights traditionally provided only through marriage was highly contentious, supporters of the Amendment Bill, which extended the definition of marriage to include any two individuals regardless of sexual orientation or gender, successfully framed debate around “marriage equality” a concept that resonated strongly with New Zealanders. In choosing “marriage equality” to shape and frame public debate, supporters of the Amendment Bill argued for reform by explicitly drawing upon the language and key concepts of human rights, notably fairness and equality, rather than “special rights” and difference.en_NZ
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
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dc.subjectHomosexual Law Reform Billen_NZ
dc.subjectHuman Rights Billen_NZ
dc.subjectCivil Union Billen_NZ
dc.subjectMarriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Billen_NZ
dc.subjecthuman rightsen_NZ
dc.subjectmarriage equalityen_NZ
dc.subjectNew Zealanden_NZ
dc.subjectsame sex relationshipsen_NZ
dc.titleA Right to Marriage: The Emergence of Human Rights Discourse in Debate over Marriage Equality in Aotearoa/New Zealand 1986-2013en_NZ
dc.language.rfc3066en and Art Historyen_NZ of Artsen_NZ of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Onlyen_NZ
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