Minister fires on Destiny Church

Cabinet minister David Benson-Pope spoke out last night against fear, hatred and intolerance in society, and gave special attention to the Destiny Church.

As Associate Justice Minister, Mr Benson-Pope is shepherding the Civil Union and Relationships (Statutory References) bills through Parliament.

He said they were aimed at removing discrimination from the law based on marital status and sexual orientation.

"I am not asserting for a moment that people must agree with this legislation. From the outset I welcomed an open and informed debate. However, I am concerned how some people are expressing their views and the fear, hatred and intolerance that lie at their heart."

Next Monday, in the grounds of Parliament, schoolchildren would take part in a protest against the legislation organised by the Destiny Church, Mr Benson-Pope said.

Recently, a similar demonstration was held in Auckland.

"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," he said.

"It does, however, remind us of some of the darker days of history.

"This intolerance is pretty scary. More so because it is being taught by a church."

Mr Benson-Pope evoked the memory of Eve van Grafhorst, who moved from Australia after being told that because she had HIV she could only play with the other children at her kindergarten if she wore a plastic visor.

"What happened to Eve was wrong and New Zealanders said so. 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 said another possible example might be the extreme right-wing Maxim Institute, which publicly denied any connection with fundamentalist American organisations yet had staff members who were inextricably linked to them.

He said he had proof of the links between Maxim and the fundamentalists.

- NZPA

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