Two MPS have joined a protest against same-sex marriage that included people with placards likening gay people to animals.
In South Auckland yesterday, protesters carried handwritten placards saying "lesbi/gay copy ... animals" and saying any MPs who supported the bill to legalise same-sex marriage were mentally ill.
One of the MPs, National's Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, is a member of the Parliamentary committee that will consider public submissions for and against the Marriage Amendment Bill.
The other, Labour's Su'a William Sio, infuriated many in his party by warning that they would lose Pacific Island votes if they legalised gay marriage.
Busloads of Tongan Christians arrived in Mangere yesterday for the demonstration.
Protester Aisea Kaifa said New Zealand should learn from the lessons of Sodom and Gomorrah. Mana Party member Kereama Pene also addressed the crowd and ended his speech with a reference to "Adam and Steve", which was met with applause and laughter.
Bakshi and Sio addressed the audience to applause. After the speeches, Bakshi told the Herald on Sunday his attendance didn't conflict with his select committee membership. People knew he had voted against the bill's first reading, he said. "There's nothing to hide."
"You can see the sentiments of the people ... they are 100 per cent against this amendment."
Bakshi hoped to convince MPs who earlier voted for gay marriage to change their minds, saying most ethnic MPs opposed gay marriage.
"We understand that God made us and we are firm believers (that) marriage is between a man and woman," Bakshi told the crowd of around 250. "I tell you, the majority of the National Party MPs voted against this bill. There were only three Labour party MPs who voted against this bill. So you can understand who believes in Christianity, who believes in this bill. It is the National Party."
Speaking to the Herald on Sunday afterwards, he conceded that most National MPs had, in fact, supported the bill.
As Bakshi sat on stage, speaker Alani Taione from the Tonga Development Society berated MPs who supported the bill and referred to the Prime Minister as "John Gay". "That's a personal view," he said afterwards.
Labour's Ruth Dyson, who chairs the Parliamentary committee, said she had no objection to Bakshi participating in the protest.
Her colleague, Sio, told the crowd many people were not capable of understanding the objections to gay marriage. "Many New Zealanders will say: 'What's the big deal?' You and I don't necessarily have to defend that, because you and I have a perspective that is perhaps beyond most people's perspective."
Organiser 'Alisi Tatafu distanced herself from some of the protesters with more strongly-worded placards, describing them as extremists.