Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Let New Zealand be New Zealand

Should countries change their laws to suit other countries? Does the consequent personal anguish of a few people mean a country should change its laws to help those few people? What about when the country demanding change is a fascist dictatorship?

Russia, under the rule of its virulently anti-gay regime, bans adoptions of Russian children by people who are from countries with marriage equality (apparently nothing demonstrates Christian love—or how anti-gay you are—quite like punishing children who have no hope of ever leaving an orphanage). This is nothing new, and when NZ enacted marriage equality there were stories back then about Kiwis who were suddenly forbidden to adopt Russian children.

Fast forward a year, and TVNZ’s Seven Sharp infotainment programme has suddenly discovered the issue (where have they been all this time?) and presented the genuinely sad story of a Kiwi couple who were in line to adopt a little Russian boy, only to lose out at the last minute because of New Zealand moving forward and Russia trying to punish countries that do so.

The couple’s story was truly heartbreaking—I could feel their pain through the TV. However, that terribly sad story doesn’t mean that New Zealand should bow and scrape before Russian dictator Putin and do as he orders us to do.

The report said that Spain, faced with a similar retributive ban, changed its law to accede to Russia’s orders, banning adoptions by LGBT people (the report didn’t specify what adoptions were banned—all, all overseas or only those from Russia). That’s utterly daft.

No country that New Zealand works with allows foreign adoptions by people in de facto relationships, civil unions or same-gender marriages. In this case, that means that since same-gender couples in Russia cannot adopt Russian children, gay New Zealanders can’t, either (oddly, this wasn't mentioned in the Seven Sharp report). So, changing New Zealand law to accommodate the demands of the Russian dictator wouldn’t change anything—the Russians are merely trying to dictate the domestic policies and laws of other countries.

And that’s the larger issue here: New Zealand law must never be up for political sale. We must never change our laws to suit the bigotry of a foreign country—it should be the other way around, if anything. I know this might cause pain to a few people here in New Zealand, but the issues here are huge, involving national sovereignty, independence and the very right of New Zealand to choose its own course in the world, even when other countries vehemently disapprove (nuclear-free New Zealand, anyone?).

I genuinely feel for the couple in the Seven Sharp story, and for the other person I’ve heard about. Their stories are truly heartbreaking. But the harsh reality is that the independence and national sovereignty of New Zealand are more important.

Let New Zealand be New Zealand. Other countries must choose their own paths, but also must never tell us what path we may choose, and they absolutely have no right to tell us what path we must choose. Some people will be hurt along the way, and that’s truly sad. But our very nationhood is far more important.


rogerogreen said...

You've alluded before to the fact that US policy sometimes has an impact on laws in other countries, which hadn't occurred to me, but is almost instinctively true....

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Yes, and it's probably a topic in itself. In this case, the only more or less directly comparable action from the USA was when it efffectively kicked New Zealand out of the ANZUS alliance when New Zealand went nuclear free. The presidential administration of the day apparently thought doing so would force NZ to change its laws. That never happened, of course, and I'm sure that NZ also won't change it's laws to bow down to Putin. The same TV programme tonight reported that this whole thing affects only seven NZ couples.

rogerogreen said...

Well, if I'm busy answering your question about Hobby Lobby and faith, I'll task you to write on how the US tries to impact foreign laws. Fun times.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

And by the time I'm done with that, you'll be onto my other question to you from today…