New Zealand’s new same sex marriage law hits visa snags

Published:  9 Sep at 6 PM
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New Zealand’s new law allowing same-sex marriage came into force in August, with its supporters expecting the country’s tourism sector to benefit.

The first two gay couples who’d arranged to get married under the new law arrived from Thailand last week, but were met by immigration officers who grilled both couples about the gap in their ages and at first refused them entry to the country. Forced to fight for their visitor permits, they had to provide bank books, support letters, photographic proof of genuine relationships and proof of addresses in Thailand before they were reluctantly allowed in.

Distressed over their treatment by immigration officers and even more so by the entry in their passports referring to ‘same-sex marriage’, both couples complained to the New Zealand Herald and to immigration, and were finally offered an apology by immigration spokesperson Rachel Purdom. She stated an error had been made, and promised that staff would be instructed to simply state the word ‘marriage’ in future.

Previous to their arrival in New Zealand, both couples had been told that they were the first from South East Asia to apply for visas to marry. Apparently, both fell foul of New Zealand’s visa-free entry list which only includes six wealthy Asian states and other first-world countries.

Visitors from other Southeast Asian countries must prove to immigration officers that only a temporary stay is intended for whatever reason, including marriage. However, expat Kai Kingsley, who will marry Jakthon Phaengtho next week, told the media they were asked to prove everything they owned and even photos of their jewellery to back up their financial status.
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