Same-sex couples tie knot in first in New Zealand

Same-sex couples tie knot in first in New Zealand

WELLINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Same-sex couples tie knot in first in New Zealand

Dozens of same-sex couples say ‘I do’ as same-sex marriage legalized. AFP photo

Dozens of same-sex couples said “I do” today as New Zealand became the first Asia-Pacific country, and only the 14th in the world, to legalize gay marriage.

Vows were exchanged in venues ranging from an airliner cruising at 9,150 meters to a historic bath house as gay men and women took advantage of the law change. The Campaign For Marriage Equality said it ended an historical injustice and meant the love of all people was recognized as equal in the eyes of the law. “A massive congratulations to the happy couples tying the knot today. Marriage equality has finally arrived in New Zealand,” spokesman Conrad Reyners said.

The amendment to the Marriage Act was passed by Parliament in April but did not come into effect until yesterday. Two radio stations competed to host the first same-sex wedding, with the ceremonies broadcast live during their breakfast programs.

New Zealand decriminalized homosexuality in 1986 and has allowed same-sex civil unions since 2005. Among the first to be married were Australian couple Paul McCarthy and Trent Kandler, who beat 300 other pairs to win a Tourism New Zealand competition.

Their wedding will not be legally recognized at home but McCarthy said he hoped that day would come and the ceremony at Wellington’s Te Papa museum showed “we don’t have two horns, we’re not freaks (and) that there’s nothing to fear from marriage equality.”