The Government-appointed Charities Commission has moved to de-register one of the most vocal lobby groups on social policy, Family First, because it spoke out against gay marriage.
The charity, headed by former radio host Bob McCoskrie, has been a registered charity for nearly a decade, formed up to investigate, report on and lobby on controversial social issues that affect families, such as the youth drinking age, the legalisation of prostitution and the impact of gay marriage on adopted children.
“Family First NZ has received notification that the Charities Commission intends to deregister the charity, citing Family First’s traditional view of marriage being one man and one woman as one of the reasons for the deregistration. The investigation began just after the gay marriage debate started last year,” Family First says in an “urgent” news release this morning.
“This is a highly politicised decision which is grim evidence that groups that think differently to the prevailing politically correct view will be targeted in an attempt to shut them up,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“The Commission argues that Family First’s efforts to represent the voice of 80%-plus of families on the anti-smacking law or half of New Zealanders on attempts to redefine marriage, for example, have no ‘public benefit’, and that it is in the ‘public interest’ for Family First to be deregistered.”
“It is now evident that any charity that speaks up on issues which are deemed incorrect by the political elite are in danger of being penalised. An easy way for opponents of a point of view is for them to use the Charities Commission to muzzle them.”
Family First is a non-profit organisation which receives no government funding, is funded purely by donations and gifts from New Zealand families, and relies heavily on volunteer time.
“You know a country is in trouble when a family group speaking up, publishing research, and holding conferences on traditional family values is deemed to be of no public benefit, and is in the public interest to be punished. It seems to be almost illegal to hold a viewpoint,” says McCoskrie.
Under the Official Information Act, Family First has requested a list of which charities supporting the anti-smacking law and supporting the gay marriage law have had similar investigations. They have also requested information on who made complaints against Family First NZ.
“Family First gained approval as a charity, has also passed two ‘audits’, and have made no change to the nature of our operations over the past seven years. It appears that only the opinion of the Commission has changed,” says McCoskrie.
“The good news is that even if Family First NZ loses its charitable status, we won’t be going away. We will continue to represent and be a voice for a massive proportion of NZ’ers on many social & family issues.”