New Zealand has become a very popular destination for gay couples who cannot marry in their own countries.
Out of the 954 gay marriages which took place last year, as many as 471 were for foreign couples according to Statistics New Zealand, the local equivalent of the ONS. Population Statistics Senior Manager Peter Dolan noted that Australians “accounted for 58 per cent of overseas same sex couples coming here to marry” and that a “further 17 per cent came from China”.
New Zealand was a more highly favoured wedding destination for gay couples than it was for straight people. While almost half of all same sex ceremonies involved those from outside the country, only 11 per cent of heterosexual marriages did so. Additionally, 56 per cent of straight marriages featured two people originally born in New Zealand who had moved away.
Gay marriage was legalised in New Zealand back in 2013 after its Parliament voted by a margin of 77 to 44 in favour of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. This made the country the first in the Asia-Pacific region to recognise marriage rights for same sex couples and the thirteenth worldwide.
Neighbouring Australia has been wrestling with the idea of gay marriage for a long time. Its politicians have gone back and forth on the idea of leaving the question of legalisation to a vote, either in Parliament or in public. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insists that a plebiscite is the best way to deal with the issue despite heavy opposition from LGBT rights activists who claim that such action would lead to a very divisive, hurtful campaign.
Meanwhile in China, gay couples have no legal protection whatsoever. Homosexuality was a crime until 1997 and was still seen as a mental disorder as late as 2005. Last year, a same sex couple petitioned a local court in the country’s Hunan province to be granted the right to marry but were rejected just three hours after their hearing began.