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Gay marriage ban will make Australia lose out to New Zealand

Gay marriage ban will make Australia lose out to New Zealand

As New Zealand approves same-sex marriages from Monday, the reform is expected to trigger a gold rush of pink tourists, from the neigborhood as well as afar.

With at least 31 gay couples ready to tie the knot in New Zealand on Monday and hundreds showing interest, New Zealand’s bigger neighbor Australia could lose out in the race for tourists, thanks to its ban on same-sex marriages.

Marriage equality advocates are urging the Kevin Rudd government in Australia to act soon to stem the tourist exodus it will suffer from soon as national pride, an economic boost and stronger families help New Zealand reap benefits from its marriage equality status.

Australia can reap this benefit too if we act soon, said Rodney Croome, national director at Australian Marriage Equality, campaigners for LGBT unions.

"New Zealanders feel immensely proud that their nation has achieved this important reform, and I’m looking forward to Australians feeling the same kind of national pride," Croome said in a press statement issued Sunday.

"We know that many hundreds of Australian same-sex couples will fly to New Zealand to wed and spend their money, but if Australia acts soon that money can instead be spent in Australia, creating jobs for Australians."

According to Croome, the most important benefit of marriage equality is that it will strengthen relationships and families in New Zealand.

"This is a benefit that the overwhelming majority of Australians would agree is something we want to see in our country as well," he said.

About 1,000 Australian couples responded to a recent AME survey saying they intend to marry in New Zealand. The final figure is likely to be much higher.

The couples are expected to spend tens of millions of dollars on their New Zealand weddings, creating hundreds of new jobs.

"By not moving forward on marriage equality our politicians are effectively exporting money and jobs to New Zealand," Croome said.

A promotional event by New Zealand Tourism will sponsor Australian couple Paul McCarthy and Trent Kandler’s wedding Monday.

Australia is New Zealand’s biggest source country for tourists and the much-hyped ceremony is bound to generate a greater number of Australian visitors.

McCarthy, generally shy of the media, told the local press ahead of the wedding: "We’ve been waiting for Australia to give us the OK to be treated equally for many years now … so when New Zealand announced (it had legalised gay marriage) it was almost a given."

News.com.au described the couple as “the first in what is expected to be a convoy of planes loaded with gay Australian couples heading to New Zealand to tie the knot”.