Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Royal Succession Bill

Last year, the British government decided to end a thousand years of sexism (but not 350 years of religious bigotry) and alter their royal succession. Now, thanks to some unrepealed colonial baggage, we have to pass a law to enable it.

The bill is here. It abolishes male primogeniture and the exclusion of those who marry "Papists" (to use the odious language of the Act of Settlement), but fails to remove the exclusion of Catholics. In that respect, it is fundamentally incompatible with New Zealand values and the right to be free of discrimination enshrined in the BORA. But then, so is the monarchy itself. It is undemocratic, it is snobbish, it is foreign. It is British, not Kiwi - nothing to do with us.

Obviously, if the UK needs this law passed to tick all the boxes on their changing the succession for their monarchy, then it would be improper to refuse (just as it would have been improper pre-1986 for them to have refused to pass any bill requested by the elected New Zealand government). But rather than just tinkering around the edges of this undemocratic institution, we should take the opportunity to do away with it entirely and replace the foreign figurehead with an elected one.