WELLINGTON, August 18, 2004 ( – New Zealand’s Associate Justice Minister, David Benson-Pope, lashed out against Catholic and Evangelical groups opposed to proposed civil union legislation for same-sex couples Monday.

Schoolchildren from evangelical Destiny Church have planned a protest against the proposed legislation at parliament for next Monday. Benson-Pope, using the now common gay activist tactic of intimidation and personal defamation of opponents, likened their opposition with the intolerance that led to the destruction of headstones in a Jewish cemetery in the same week.

“That the Destiny protests – bussing schoolchildren dressed in black shirts to rallies where they are clearly told it is all right to hate – came in the same week as Jewish headstones were smashed in Wellington was a coincidence of timing,” Benson-Pope said, as reported by the New Zealand Herald.  Benson-Pope is the lead sponsor of the proposed Civil Union and Relationships (Statutory References) bill to allow legal recognition of same-sex couples. The bill would put same-sex and non-married heterosexual couples on par with genuinely married couples. The bill is set to be given final approval in the coming weeks.  “I am concerned how some people are expressing their views and the fear, hatred and intolerance that lie at their heart,” Benson-Pope said, in an address Monday. “[The Destiny protest] does, however, remind us of some of the darker days of history. This intolerance is pretty scary,” he said. “More so because it is being taught by a church.”  Benson-Pope compared the “discrimination” by Destiny Church protesters with the treatment of Eve van Grafhorst, a young Australian girl who was not allowed to play with other children in Kindergarten unless she wore a plastic visor. Her family emigrated to New Zealand to avoid the discriminatory demand, where she later succumbed to AIDS.  “What happened to Eve was wrong and New Zealanders said so,” Benson-Pope preached. “These Kiwi values are the exact antidote for a growing intolerance from some within our society – an intolerance that I must say is more and more using language and tactics imported from other countries.”  He described the Christian think-tank, the Maxim Institute, which also opposes the proposed legislation, as an “extreme right-wing” organization.

Read New Zealand Herald coverage:   Read New Zealand Herald’s Garth George’s reaction, “Garth George: Fundamentalist leftie hits new depths of dirty politics”:   Tv