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NZ Labour MP Louisa Wall

Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

The MP behind New Zealand's same-sex marriage law has slammed the Catholic Church for getting involved in Australia's postal survey on the issue, saying it is “appalling” that the church is casting judgment on same-sex relationships given its record of child sexual abuse.

Louisa Wall is the Labour member for Manurewa, an electorate in South Auckland. She authored the same-sex marriage bill that was passed into law by the New Zealand parliament in 2013, making it the first country in the Asia Pacific to grant same-sex couples the right to marry.

She told the BuzzFeed political podcast Is It On? that she was perplexed by the prominent role of the Catholic Church and its leaders in Australia's marriage survey.

“I can’t understand why they haven’t been told to not lead the 'no' campaign,” Wall said. “They don’t have any moral authority. How can you, when your institution over 70 years actively covered up all the sexual abuse of children?

“The process they’re leading is affecting all the LGBT young people. It’s just disgusting.”

Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

Earlier this week, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said love between two people of the same sex was “like the love of friends”.

“It is love and it is valuable but it's not and it can't be the kind of love that we call marriage,” he said.

In making his argument against same-sex marriage, Coleridge pointed out that siblings cannot marry siblings and parents cannot marry their children.

Three Catholic archdioceses — Sydney, Hobart, and Broken Bay — are listed as official partners with the Coalition for Marriage.

Last month, Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart wrote an open letter to Catholics urging a “no” vote and asking them to consider the consequences of legalising same-sex marriage. A similar directive was issued by the Archbishop of Perth, Timothy Costelloe.

Wall was surprised more Australians hadn't told the Catholic Church to refrain from getting involved in the same-sex marriage debate.

“I wish you’d talk about it and say to them, 'If you want to be a moral crusader, why don’t you eliminate child sexual abuse? And be a leader in that?'” she said. “Not against human rights, and especially in a process where young Australians are being so adversely affected.

“I find it absolutely appalling that they’ve come out and been so vigorous in their opposition.”

She also said the “scaremongering” from Catholic archbishops and former prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott was “so yesterday”.

“This legislation is about the future, it’s not about the past,” she said.

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Wall, formerly an elite sportsperson who represented New Zealand in rugby and netball before entering politics, said her bill had come in the midst of a global conversation about same-sex marriage.

“It’s a bit like sport — timing is everything,” she said. “We basically joined a global conversation, then had a very local conversation about the role of the state in marriage.”

Wall said New Zealand's debate on same-sex marriage “on the whole was incredibly collegial”.

“What we started talking about was our kids, our families, what it says to young people about being gay, and actually what do we want for anyone in life?” she said.

“I believe that’s where we were able to break down the generational divide. Grandparents started looking at their grandchildren and saying, 'I want for my grandchild what I want for all people. I want them to find that person and get married and have a good home and a good life and children.'”

The debate was nasty at times, though, Wall added.

“I’m not saying I didn’t get hate mail and people telling me I was going to go to hell, and that I had caused earthquakes and a whole lot of droughts. It’s quite interesting they think that as a lesbian woman I had so much power!”

The full interview with Louisa Wall will feature in BuzzFeed Australia’s podcast Is It On?. View it on iTunes and subscribe here.

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