Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March wants sexual exclusiveness ditched when considering partnership visas

Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March wants immigration officials to stop considering sexual exclusiveness in relationships when processing partnership visas. 

He's urging Immigration New Zealand to review how they see relationships and apply more modern criteria, to cater for sex workers and other couples who may be committed but not be sexually exclusive with their partner. 

"It's not just sex workers. The point is about the really archaic nature of the definition of relationships by Immigration New Zealand, which I think is no longer fit for purpose," Menéndez March told Newshub. 

"A range of people have raised concerns to me about, for example, when you have inter-faith couples that simply it's not safe for them to live together, queer couples who may not be sexually exclusive, and sex workers as well."

Menéndez March raised his concern with immigration officials during a parliamentary committee earlier this week, and they confirmed that the criteria for partnership visas "is on the list of things that require a policy review". 

An Immigration spokesperson told Newshub relationships are currently defined as being genuine "if it has been entered into with the intention of being maintained on a long-term and exclusive basis". 

Immigration NZ also "needs to be satisfied that partnership is genuine and stable". 

Menéndez March is eager to see the criteria tweaked.  

"I have had concerns raised with me in the community around consensual relationships where perhaps they're not sexually exclusive but they're romantically exclusive and in a genuine relationship, being declined on what seems to be really traditional values and definitions of relationships," he told the committee. 

Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March.
Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March. Photo credit: Facebook / Ricardo Menéndez March

National leader Judith Collins seems to think there are more important issues.

"Oh for goodness sake, I don't think it's the biggest issue," she told Newshub on her way into Parliament earlier this week, when asked if she agreed with Menéndez March's concerns. 

Menéndez March said it should matter to National, since its immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford has been advocating to get migrant families back together in New Zealand.

"I think it is really important that our immigration settings actually reflect modern relationships," Menéndez March said. 

"Ultimately, like I said, it's not just about sex workers. It's actually so much broader than that. It's about people that don't fit a really narrow criteria of what a loving relationship is."

Menéndez March was cleared of suspicion in February regarding his Mexican partner's visa entry into New Zealand, after Opposition MPs questioned if they met Immigration NZ's requirement that a couple is living together. 

Immigration officials confirmed it was treated like any other application.