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New Zealand court rules voting age of 18 is discriminatory

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the current voting age of 18 is discriminatory, forcing parliament to debate whether it should be lowered.

The lawsuit, which has been in court since 2020, was purchased by advocacy group Make It 16, which wants to lower the age to include 16 and 17.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the current voting age of 18 is inconsistent with the country’s Bill of Rights, which gives people the right to be free from age discrimination when they reach the age of 16.

This decision initiates a process in which the issue will be discussed in parliament and considered by a parliamentary special committee. But it does not force Congress to change the voting age.

Caeden Tipler, co-director of Make It 16, said, “This is history. Governments and Congress cannot ignore clear legal and moral messages like this. They must let us vote.” I have to.

People stand outside the New Zealand Parliament Building, known as ‘Beehive’ because of the shape of the building, in Wellington, New Zealand, July 23, 2020. REUTERS/Praveen Menon

The group says on its website that there are no good reasons to stop 16-year-olds from voting when they can drive, work full-time and pay taxes.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government could draft a bill to lower the age to 16 and put it to a vote in parliament.

“I personally support lowering the voting age, but it is not just about me or the government. This kind of electoral law change requires the support of 75% of parliamentarians,” she said. said.

Political parties have different views on this issue. The Greens want immediate action to lower the voting age to her 16, but the largest opposition party, the People’s Party, does not support the transition.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon said: “Obviously you have to draw the line somewhere. “We are happy with the 18-year-old line. But from our point of view, 18 is enough.”

Reported by Lucy Kramer. Edited by Bradley Perrett & Shri Navaratnam

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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