Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Media Take: Three decades on from law reform

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  • tony j ricketts,

    I went to a public meeting at Henderson High School, and can vouch for the extreme nastiness of Hay and Tait. Fran Wilde can be enduringly proud of the way she handled the situation.

    I recall anti-bill leaflets named Hay and Tait as sharing an address.

    looking forward to the programme - kia kaha to all concerned

    wellington • Since Aug 2012 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to tony j ricketts,

    I went to a public meeting at Henderson High School, and can vouch for the extreme nastiness of Hay and Tait.

    Apart from their simple contempt for other human beings, I think their nasty streak was brought out by the dawning reality that they were losing – not only in Parliament, but with the public. Between April and September 1985 Heylen poll support for law reform increased from 51% to 62%. They were out of time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Fran Wilde was my local MP and friend and even though she's a strong person, it got very tough for her at times. I remember baking a cake once to take to her office as a small gesture. I see Fran from time to time and always encourage her to write her memoirs. She was at the forefront of politics in many spheres. She's a journalist by training and has now finally retired from most things, so I hope she finally does it.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3188 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Double,

    I always nursed a liberal atheist soft spot for the Sallies. They behaved like Christians rather than just talked like them. But the whole petition episode soured me and others on them for years. I hope they're suitably embarrassed about their role in enabling that kind of intolerance. I'd be interested to know what they think these days.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2012 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    it was taken over by Keith Hay and Peter Tait who, with the assistance of The Salvation Army, campaigned for signatures in streets, schools and workplaces.

    The way in which the signatures were collected was often ethically dubious.

    In the early 80s I took on a work experience kid who happened to be a member of Keith Hay's Mt Roskill church. While I'd like to think that I gave it my best shot there were cultural issues. To his credit the poor guy seemed genuinely mortified when he realised that I wasn't amused by his wisecrack about needing a passport to visit Ponsonby, after he discovered that I lived there.

    A couple of years later, when I found myself being accosted by signature gathering children on Queen Street, I wasn't surprised when they readily identified as being from that unfortunate flock. Some appeared as young as twelve. Out alone after dark on Main Street of Sin City they were way outside of their comfort zone.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4590 posts Report Reply

  • John Morrison,

    At my sister-in-law's recent wedding I spoke about how difficult it was for those brave advocates and I asked the guests to thank them so we could celebrate this wedding.
    Fran Wilde is some strong woman which I have personally expressed to her years ago.

    Cromwell • Since Nov 2006 • 85 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Ken Double,

    Giving to the Sallies again and watching a Springbok rugby game. Defining cultural moments for some NZers after years, even decades, of refusal.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3188 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to tony j ricketts,

    Fran Wilde can be enduringly proud of the way she handled the situation.

    I was talking about this with my hairdresser yesterday. He remembers Fran Wilde coming into the Dorian Club in July 1986 and telling them that her Bill had passed into law. It must've been amazing.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 821 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Patrick,

    That petition was very dodgy - someone brought a copy round at work (steel mill, very blue collar) and asked if I wanted to sign it. I said no, if it had been pro the legislation I would have - and got some funny looks. One of the guys signed it and signed it for his son, wife, daughter and his son's wife as well "because they'd want to sign it too".

    Rangiora, Te Wai Pounamu • Since Nov 2006 • 261 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ken Double,

    I always nursed a liberal atheist soft spot for the Sallies. They behaved like Christians rather than just talked like them. But the whole petition episode soured me and others on them for years. I hope they’re suitably embarrassed about their role in enabling that kind of intolerance. I’d be interested to know what they think these days.

    They’re better now, if not exactly great. But they did apologise in 2012 for their actions in 1986. Their website carries the respective statements of the SA and Rainbow Wellington on the rapprochement. There’s more here.

    I’ve long been quite conflicted, because I know that the Salvation Army helped my alcoholic father and I’m grateful for that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Giving to the Sallies again and watching a Springbok rugby game. Defining cultural moments for some NZers after years, even decades, of refusal.

    And buying Chilean wine. I remember my parents going through a phase in the 70s of boycotting Chilean wine in response to the coup d'etat in 1973. Given how my dad loved his Concha y Toro, it was quite a sacrifice.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 821 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I’ve long been quite conflicted, because I know that the Salvation Army helped my alcoholic father and I’m grateful for that.

    They sort of helped my alcoholic father too. He went through their treatment program, found God, changed his will in their favour, and a month later he died in a pub and my mother got nothing. I give to the Chch City Mission instead.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Gay men and lesbians who campaigned for the bill were subject to beatings.

    In Christchurch in 1985/86, it wasn't just the people actively campaigning. My girlfriend's flatmate got beaten up, for being one of a couple of blokes walking through Hagley park on their way home to Addington from a night out drinking. A car-load of hoons jumped out and beat the crap out of them for being gay, despite neither of them actually being gay... Put them both in hospital, one with quite serious head injuries.

    I'd like to say there were a lot of dickheads back then, but I'm not entirely sure it's changed.

    Oddly enough, my girlfriend of the time was fairly seriously anti-law-reform, for the convoluted reason that if she was raped, she expected to be anally raped as well, and then she wouldn't have to prove lack of consent in order to get a conviction.

    I'm not sure if that was the real reason, or just one she thought she could give in public. Or whether that's just more evidence that the law had a rep of giving rape victims the raw end of the stick back then too.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Johnson,

    I remember marching down Queen Street in 1986 for what is basically a human right. To be your orientation.

    Jesus, in hindsight it aches me to think how long it took to get gay marriage accepted legally .All the parliamentarians who blocked gay rights over the next thirty years should be ashamed .

    All those rights logically should have been awarded in 1986 yet the power of do nothing conservatism prevailed, kind of disgraceful really. This is a sad example of how obvious law changes get strangled by pitiful representatives, the major blocker is our lovely national party, they really needs to apologise for their incompetence and bigotry on this matter but that's how they roll. Stopping progression, stopping sensible law making, stopping sensible wealth distribution, it's a real thing man, political sloths.

    30 years ago gay rights should have been awarded in an afternoon session in the beehive but bigotry dominated reason for 3 decades.

    hamilton • Since Mar 2016 • 98 posts Report Reply

  • Samthecat,

    My dad was gay as is my son. My revulsion at the uniform wearing and flag waving on the steps of Parliament at the time the petition was presented remains to this day. I won't donate to the Salvation Army and no one else in the family has since then. If they stop me in the street or come to the door I tell them why I won't give them any money. I guess the apology rang hollow to me, it just felt more like it was out of worry about donations drying up than genuine remorse. The Wellington City Mission gets our money instead.

    Wellington • Since Feb 2010 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Tom Johnson,

    30 years ago gay rights should have been awarded in an afternoon session in the beehive but bigotry dominated reason for 3 decades.

    Reckon. Was a privilege to discuss this with Johnny Givins after the show. He observed that the law changes before culture and practice do. I recall being stoked as a straight man witnessing the spectators at the Hero Parade opening our collective arms in celebration not just 'tolerance'. Felt like the culture had caught up (even if only in that place).

    I really do not understand how some bigots are so scared of the world and the diversity of human experience in it. Yet they so clearly and harmfully do.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19661 posts Report Reply

  • AndrewJ,

    I remember being a scrawny 5th former at Gisborne Boys High and having a couple of much bigger, older boys stand over me and tell me i was a faggot if i didn't sign. To my credit i didn't.

    Jakarta, Indonesia • Since Jun 2014 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Jeanette King,

    The Salvation Army - yes, they do some good work, particularly in the drug and alcohol area. but I always tell collectors two reasons why I won't donate to them: their opposition to the Bill and that I can't bring myself to donate to an organisation with the motto 'Blood and Fire'. ... Though I notice that they seem to have discretely dropped displaying the motto.

    Ōtautahi • Since Oct 2010 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    I recall being stoked as a straight man witnessing the spectators at the Hero Parade opening our collective arms in celebration not just ‘tolerance’. Felt like the culture had caught up (even if only in that place).

    I did interviews with Rex Halliday and others for Planet and we ended up getting some free tickets to the Hero party on Prince’s Wharf. We were at a barbecue beforehand and our gay friend Darren couldn’t afford to go along. So we clubbed in and bought him a ticket and he was so happy. He’d literally never been in a big queer space like that before.

    I may have cried during the performance part. And I wasn’t even on drugs.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Oh, also: Sunday’s Neighbourhood episode focuses on K Road and is presented by the very talented Ramon Te Wake. There’s a law reform-themed show called ‘The Bill’ at Artspace, it turns out.

    It’s on TVNZ on Demand here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Proffit,

    It is hard to believe that it is 30 years since I finally could love who I wanted without committing a crime. I still remember been at public meetings & demos to support HLR as a student in Wellington.

    Now some 30 years later I find myself in Sydney where the conservatives and religious right seem intent on dragging the Marriage equality debate on for as long as possible. Sadly the arguments are just as vile now.

    Sydney, Australia • Since Sep 2008 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Graham, in reply to Ken Double,

    Still does.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • Conrad Heine,

    My abiding memory of the time... the obsession of Norm Jones and his ilk with sex acts - the "bill to legalise sodomy", etc. I still don't get why some political pundits would praise him as a "character". And the anti-bill petition on the counter at Don Oliver's gym in Glen Eden, with its implied threat. Watching a petition-wielding Sallie approach a skinhead on Queen Street, and said skinhead gleefully scrawling. Different times, I hope.

    London/New Zealand • Since Mar 2008 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Sacha,

    I really do not understand how some bigots are so scared of the world and the diversity of human experience in it. Yet they so clearly and harmfully do.

    Some of them have repackaged themselves as "defenders" of gay & womens' rights against "feral people of colour". On any other day, they'll still bang on about gays and feminists "undermining Western society from within". There's a fallacy for this sort of thing - isn't it called 'pinkwashing'?. I suspect still other extremists are overloading logical circuits over whether Muslims or gays are the bigger threat of the two.

    Thankfully the likes of Laurie Penny are calling bollocks on it, despite threats of violence against her, and name-calling to the effect of "cultural Marxist traitor".

    http://www.newstatesman.com/world/2016/05/new-chauvinists-try-defend-women-who-will-defend-us-them
    http://www.newstatesman.com/2016/06/love-wins-laurie-penny-soho-vigil-orlando-shooting-victims

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I’ve long been quite conflicted, because I know that the Salvation Army helped my alcoholic father and I’m grateful for that.

    I totally get and respect that, and I feel the same conflict from a slightly different angle. But they still actively campaigned against Law Reform (and IIRC the Human Rights Amendment Act) and as my late Nana used to say to me far too often: It's all very nice apologizing, dear, but its much better to have nothing to apologize for.

    If the Salvation Army had their way, I'd still be a sex criminal who could legally be sacked or denied housing and services.

    That's far too close to home for me to forgive.

    And this is why the indifference of networks to commissioning a documentary really pisses me off on a very visceral level.

    With the benefit of hindsight, its always easy to fall into the comforting belief that Homosexual Law Reform was someone inevitable.

    That's just not true. And if someone doesn't tell the truth -- including the history of Vern Young's bill twelve years earlier -- it not only distorts history but allows complacency to breed. That's not only annoying but dangerous -- because if recent events in the United States and England have taught us anything it should be that nothing -- nothing -- is set is stone.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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