Written By: - Date published: 9:16 am, February 21st, 2016 - 94 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, david cunliffe, Deep stuff, democratic participation, gay rights, grant robertson, Judith Collins, labour, national, phil goff, Politics, same old national - Tags: fran wilde, homosexual law reform, Nikki Kaye, richard northey
Yesterday I attended the Gay Pride parade in Auckland. Variations of the parade have occurred for a long time and the idea is that sexual diversity should be celebrated.
I was part of the Labour contingent which included Andrew Little and a number of MPs. The reception from the crowd was great and very warm.
An effort was made to get MPs who had voted for homosexual law reform in 1986 to attend and special placards were prepared for them. Richard Northey was there:
Trevor Mallard was there as well as Judith Tizard who held a specially altered sign to reflect that her father Bob Tizard had voted for reform:
Phil Goff was there along with Andrew Little and much of the Auckland caucus:
And Fran Wilde, the instigator of the private member’s bill which created the reform was also present:
National has two MPs at its contingent, three if you include de facto National MP David Seymour. Last year they included homophobes Melissa Lee and Alfred Ngaro. They must have thought better about having them attend this year.
Judith Collins was also there. Interestingly she chose to walk with the police float. I suspect this choice was motivated by the fact that police anticipated that the group No Pride In Prisons would attempt to disrupt the march. This did occur. The group was protesting against police and corrections floats being allowed to take part in the march while the treatment of transgender prisoners continues to be barbaric and brutal. No doubt crusher Collins wanted to use any opportunity to appear tough.
The march made me reflect on the events on 1986. The battle to have law reform passed was an intense one and support and opposition were split primarily down political lines. Only three National MP’s George Gair, Ian McLean and Katherine O’Regan voted for the bill. On Labour’s side 46 MPs voted for and 9 MPs voted against the bill.
One who voted against law reform was Lockwood Smith and in his valedictory speech he expressed regret. he said this:
I faced the classic dilemma of voting according to my own judgement or the opinion of those I was elected to represent. As a new member, I opted for the latter and I’ve always regretted it.
And the time was somewhat tumultuous as described in this Dominion Post article:
In the 16 months it took from the time the Homosexual Law Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament until it was passed into law, the argument over decriminalising homosexual sex was rarely off the pages of newspapers.
Fran Wilde, the Labour MP who introduced the bill allowing consensual sex between males aged 16 and over, says she received death threats, pro-bill campaigners were abused, beaten up and spat on, and the presentation of an 800,000-signature petition against the bill turned the steps of Parliament into a scene from the Nuremberg Rallies.
There were slagging matches in Parliament. Staunch anti-bill campaigner and Hauraki MP Graeme Lee said the bill getting to select committee stage was “a dark day in the history of our nation”. His colleague Norman Jones, then MP for Invercargill, argued against the bill by saying “if God had wanted to propagate the human race through the rear, he’d have put the womb down here”.
Which brings me around to National’s current approach. Nikki Kaye is part of the softer more liberal face that National wishes to portray, realising that its hard core conservative stance was off putting to many New Zealanders. Her social media yesterday had the theme that “love aint political”. Well it shouldn’t be.
But the problem is that National’s innate conservatism and its insistence that it knows best and its refusal to accept alternative ideas means that it is very slow to change. On issue after issue Labour is at the forefront of issues and fresh thinking and it is National that holds things up. And with the passage of time this becomes clearly evident.