By Gareth Watkins
09 July 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the passing of the 'Homosexual Law Reform Bill' and in this blog we focus on the viewpoints of some Members of Parliament.
Hero image: Still of protesters in Auckland - Featured on Eyewitness News (TVNZ, 24 May 1985).
One of the more striking changes in attitude has been from former MP John Banks. In the mid-1980s he was vehemently opposed to homosexual law reform. Here he is speaking in Parliament in 1986 about this “evil” Bill.
However, 27 years later, in April 2013, John Banks backed same-sex marriage. Here he is speaking during the third reading of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. The Bill passed its third and final reading 77 / 44.
One Member of Parliament who never changed his viewpoint was Norman Jones (d.1987). He, along with a number of other MPs, used spurious arguments to try and stop the passage of the Bill. One of those arguments was that law reform would increase homosexual activity, and therefore increase the prevalence of AIDS (proponents of the Bill argued that decriminalisation was essential to successfully limit the HIV AIDS epidemic).
But times have changed, and we now have greater diversity in Parliament – due in part to the MMP voting system (Mixed Member Proportional), in place since 1996. An example of this diversity is MP Jan Logie, who has been a List MP since 2011. Here’s an edited excerpt from her maiden speech where she celebrates the “beauty of difference”:
Check out RNZ's Documentary, '20 Years Out! Homosexual Law reform in New Zealand' and join us for a special screening of material from the homosexual law reform period on Saturday 9 July at 4.30pm, at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision in Wellington.
A special thank you to Linda Evans, Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand, for help with this blog.