Linda Evans - homosexual law reform
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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride nz.com. [00:00:04] So, Linda, you are involved in the activities leading up to homosexual law reform. Can you tell us how that came to be? [00:00:13] Well, I had been involved for many years. I was involved in the earlier days of women's liberation, and all through the 70s. And on lesbian feminism, and also attended gala liberation and other kinds of events. And, and also, from the VN young bill, which was in 1974, I was involved to some degree. So it's a kind of thing I would expect to be involved in because it had been one of the issues I'd been active on. [00:00:49] Can you just recap for us what the vein young bill was about? [00:00:52] Well, that was the first attempt at law reform. There had been a petition and the late 60s that the homosexual Law Reform society had presented to Parliament. So there was a hearing of the petitions committee, so it wasn't the first time that it come up in Parliament. And then, in 74, then Yang who was nationally MP, he bought forward a prime minister Amendment Bill to change the provisions relating to homosexual acts. to decriminalize, but the age of consent would be 20 or 21. I'm not clear about that. And that had it had some support. I don't know that it was going to be successful, necessarily. But one of the things that certainly derailed it was that Gerald wall who was a labor Member of Parliament, for poorer, he brought forward an amendment, which was an amendment saying that basically outlawing the provision of any positive information about homosexuality to young people. So really, it became a whole freedom of speech issue. And, you know, that was the kind of outrageous provision that was 28 was in England later. And we've seen in Russia recently. So in that caused a huge response, not only, of course, from lesbian groups in calibration, because obviously, you know, anything could end up in the hands of young people not to make children, they were talking about teenagers and everything. So really admit that the, you know, it was a complete reduction on our freedom of expression. But civil liberties and other liberals got very involved as well. And so there was a big debate around there. And that time, I was just involved. I just come back from living in Australia for a year. And I just, you know, went to meetings against the wall amendment, and so on. So I wasn't sort of involved in organizing anything. [00:03:02] So how did you come to be involved in the work that led up to 1986? [00:03:08] Well, in at the especially at the gala, abrasion conferences that were held throughout the 70s, one strand was always decriminalization. People, you know, had a much broader vision of what they wanted and the kind of social changes they wanted. And the challenges to heterosexuality in hetero sexism and sexism. And all of that, you know, was so quick decriminalization was just one strand. And but when Warren fria decided to bring forward a bill in the late 70s, for the again for decriminalization, but again, with an unequal age of consent, I was involved in lobbying against that. So lesbians in gaming from the National Gay Rights Coalition, lobbied against the unequal age of consent, both times the for Oren fria, who was an MP from Oakland, from the library, and he attempted to bring the bill Ford and both, you know, Warren freer, and Vin Yang and their head, good, you know, personal reasons for bringing the ballot. So it wasn't that it was just that they weren't prepared to go that extra, but and say, you know, we should be equal. And so that was quite a big thing about saying, actually, we don't want it if it's not equality, because we'll be stuck with it for a long time. It'll have lots of other implications. And one of the factors that made lesbians get a bit more involved in Sydney me was that another MP called Dale Jones, who was a national MP at that time later came back as a New Zealand police, the MP, he said whatever we if that showed any chance of going through, he would introduce an amendment to include lesbians. At that time, the only provision that affected lesbians was when girls under 16 women over 20, when that was you couldn't that could charge could be bought against the woman of the woman got involved with a girl under 16. That was the only extra specific Lee charged that specifically affected women. And but he said, whatever ended up being for me, and he would bring an amendment and that woman would be included as well. So that was a big Biggie for us. And we certainly, were not going to say, would go along with anything like that. And and lesbians would suddenly have an age of consent, and it would be an equal, and it would mean kind of Jesus and Jesus and then young lesbians, and [00:05:38] please be in through really, almost invisible under the law at the time. Yeah. [00:05:44] And we were affected by, you know, a lot of people thought we that Lisbon ism was illegal as well. And we certainly were affected by things. But yes, we didn't, there wasn't actually a legal profession apart from that one. And apart from the other ones, you know, that we were able to discriminate on the ground of it was not clear with the equivalent use that against lesbians to you could landlords to discriminate and other situations people could be discriminated against. But the other in the end, what happened is there was a bill called the equality bill, which was prepared and promoted by game me and from Oakland. And there, they did go for a just across the board age of consent. And they were also trying to do other things like remove the word right from the statute book and have a court and across the board, you know, various sexual assault charges, which was something that, hey, you know, the heads, certainly over the years been talk of, sort of decriminalizing the Chrome, DG and rising the crime scene in other ways. And so they put that forward. And I think they were the word they contact Fran wild about that bill. And but we were very unhappy about it, that you would just fall wrap lesbians, and you would do away with rape. Without any window, when still, you know, the legislative treatment of rape and the police and judicial system treatment of rape is not good now. And it was certainly wasn't good then. So we thought that that was kind of diminishing it as an offense. [00:07:21] So were you able to have conversations with those men about this sort of change to legislation to get them to see your perspective? And then they just dropped it? Or [00:07:34] was it? What happened was it when we heard about it, and also some gay men heard about it, because I'm just trying to remember if the age of consent was equal or not. So I have to remember that there certainly was an ease about it. And what happened was it we talked, I personally don't think I did, but what lesbians talked to Fran wild, and other, live a woman in peace, and said, You know, this is how opening a whole other issue. And we don't support that. And we don't support a bill that introduces an age of consent for lesbians, because anything could go wrong, is it ball goes through, and you could end up with a higher age higher age of consent. [00:08:20] So that so the MPs were actually being lobbied by even different factions within the [00:08:26] rainbow community, they are [00:08:27] they definitely were in because these were, this idea came with an initiative mainly from Oakland gaming. And, you know, it was a big point of tension in the communities and the relationships among the different networks, that some gaming and that, and this being said, we want an equal age of consent. And I can completely understand the point of view of the game and especially game in that love through, you know, really hard times with law. Who said, No, we don't care, we just want we want an improvement. And then we'll keep you know, we'll get something better later. So I can understand their point of view. But I felt quite strongly that it needed to be equal. And because it said so much more accepting and an equal age of consent or promoting an unequal age of consent says that there's something about gaming, and possibly lesbians that people have to be more careful about children have to be protected from young people have to be protected from it gives all those messages and reinforces all those stereotypes and prejudices. So an equal age of consent for me was a really key thing. [00:09:43] How was it for you being involved in the group that was talking with Fran wild? I know that they released the insane gay men and Wellington involved in it. How involved were you there? [00:09:54] Yes, I went to the meetings that were held in light, I think one and light at four. And then early at five when she was thinking about it. And when she was, you know, she, she had seen that there are other, the other, the equality, but it was not the way to go. So she was prepared to look into what she would do in and consider all options, which was really good. I think the main, I mean, again, I felt in other lesbian said about also quite a lot of gay men said we want the age of consent to be equal, we want you to fight for that. And we end the Human Rights Amendment, it's important to have that into I think the main issue that we had, is that some lesbians had been when labour got elected in 1984, they'd said they were going to set up a ministry of women's affairs, and they had forums around the country, an open invitation to women to come along and say what the issues were. And what happened was that the consumer, Christian women were very organized, and they tuned up on this, and they took over workshops and issues that they disagreed with. So abortion, so you'd have a woman's forum that recommended repealing the abortion laws, you know, conservatively not progressive Lee and you and and with entities beyond the and some of the lesbian workshops, and those forms came out with theory entities and recommendations, you know, so we had seen the level of organization that was starting to happen around social issues that and also and with labor coming in, obviously, for those groups, there was a threat that things might be more progressive, even though the Labour Party was very divided itself was very conservative, and antecedents, as well as some more radical social antecedents. So we were really worried about friends idea that it could probably go through it with a short, sharp parliamentary campaign. And we felt it's what's going to have to be more than that, because we've seen these people in action at the women's forums, and we felt that that would be mobilized to even larger degree of over homosexual or form. So that was, that was one of the things but she wanted to try the other way. And she will also wanted the bow to be secret before it was introduced, which, you know, we that was, I guess, her judgment about what colleagues and parliament and all that and so, you know, we went along with it, although, you know, we started having meetings, I think in early 85 to prepare lesbians for the fact this might be coming up. [00:12:37] So in terms of organizing around lesbians, how how did how was it and the community around people getting on board with being active about homosexual reform or [00:12:50] any of those any of the other issues with within divisions there, [00:12:55] um, you some lesbians had never really been active in the show, so many of us, I mean, some Lee's been today, a few days means had been members of the human section or form society in the late 60s, like the interest went back, even though they later became lesbian feminists and so on. So, but some of these beings felt there wasn't an issue they wanted to be involved in. And some felt that other lesbians probably shouldn't be so involved in it. Others, you know, didn't really we're worried about how conservative the tenor of the campaign might be. And they're about also about lesbians being able to put out viewpoints across, you know, because it's so often when it's a mixed lesbian and gay thing, the gay stuff predominates. But I think, at most sort of wanted, those who decided to, like come to the meetings and there. So, you know, decided to give it a go and do what they could to support. And once the strength of the position was apparent, and it was, you know, quite vile public campaign, a lot of, of lesbians who, you know, saw it as a different issue. And they said, they were active, they might not have wanted to be part of a particular group, but they were, you know, there were a lot of actions and confronting of people and ripping up petitions, and, you know, there was a lot going on, and a lot of activism by lesbians once that campaign was so public and so hostile. [00:14:28] Right, so in a way it was mobilizing lesbians, because they were seeing this, I guess, the height thing directed at it us, [00:14:38] right, because, I mean, they went there, like the Salvation Army took on the petition and took it around that could people could turn up at your door with a petition to sign people, you know, found that the appearance were being put in a position and they were signing petitions, and without really thinking about the implications. People at work, we're being confronted with it and felt pressured, and said, you know, could be someone who knew there was a lesbian or gay member in the family, but equally could be that person who didn't want to be at work. So it was quite, it was a really difficult few months when it was all so much to the fore end. And also the the pro petition the anti homosexual or form, supporters seem to feel free to say anything about us. And in some of the opposite the MPs who opposed it, felt free to say anything about us. And so and it's cnet's away, it's quite amazing when I can't think really of a parallel when your whole everything about you there's up for public examination, and in IT people can say really horrible things. Fisher Academy celebrant decided that all you know that Marty gay men were victims of white predatory white game in previously, she'd been a supporter. And when I think was Allison Lori said to her, why are you doing this? You know, you're you're harming us? And she said, Oh, no, it's not about UTM. And so, you know, there was this sort of a whole lot of people obviously had a particular stereotype of some kind in their minds. And then some of the mailing piece got completely obsessed with sodomy. And earlier on, when we were talking about the wording of the bill, I remember being involved in a discussion to say, well, do we have to continue using sodomy? Can we call it Angel intercourse? You know, and, and the MPs? Who was part of that discussion said, No, that would be a step too fat, to change the wording, but honestly, that would on and on and on, you know, in Parliament, and all the time. So I think it was, it was the kind of situation where you felt you wanted to do something, because the atmosphere and the papers and everything was so, so empty, it felt really that it was felt quite dangerous, if if this bill was lost, and if that whole really conservative social movement was when the in was dangerous for us, and they would move on to other issues. And I think, you know, that kind of so the personal thing of having to confront the, the hostility and the violence was one issue. And then there was the thing Well, what if they win? You know, it's not it's not this is not the only issue that they will be on about, they'll be after abortion, they'll be after other women's issues. So it's important to stand up to them [00:17:34] when they're when they're in the papers and the media and so on about it and able to say what they wanted with a dragging particular people through the mud? Or was it more of this generalized [00:17:46] lies because they did use a lot of American information and slogans, you know, sort of lines, argument lines. And one of the things that was actually really infuriating, it happened before continued to some degree is that if there was ever like a positive viewpoint, the media's idea of balance was to go and get some one of those people to be the anti, not talk about a whole range of opinions, you know, but that there was only pro homosexuality or lesbianism and these anti people. And so they actually got a lot of exposure, because they're always it seemed like every time you spoke there to be an empty, [00:18:24] did you have his role as a media spokesperson? [00:18:26] No, not that time, I'd hit on some of the earlier ones, but I didn't, I didn't do that at all. I was more involved in the organizing, and both in the lesbian coalition, which you for all, you know, the fact that people had quite different ideas of how it should be being approached and what lesbian should do, we did achieve a lot. So that was really satisfying. And the in the gay Task Force, and in campaign behind sexual equality, which was an activist group, and organized, to sometimes to get with the lesbian coalition, a lot of the actual actual actions. So because the gay Task Force was like a forum, and anyone could come along, which was I think, good, it was really good for all the communities and networks, but it was very, you know, very hard to get a proposal for action from the task force through. So a man, they'll always be people who didn't like the idea of matches, and you know, stuff like that. So, Chase sort of sit itself out, because people wanted to actually organize some actions, and then hopefully, the guy Task Force and that would support it, which does happen, but what were [00:19:39] the sort of achievements that you think the lesbian coalition could be credited for during that time? [00:19:45] Well, I think lesbians generally, including the other coalition, our emphasis on the age of consent was really important. Because I think it was quite hard sometimes not to conceive that maybe would have to compromise. And we just kept it up that you know, not and it was nine years, but I think we added strength to the argument that that equal age of consent was essential. We organized co organize some of the matches in events like that. We organized a pamphlet and one of the one of the issues is how do you present yourself, like if you come from a background actually, when you want to say be challenging and say, You know what, what you think is going on in society, how you think sexism works, how you think hater a citizen works, and so on. And, and also, you want to promote that lesbian ism as good for women. So you're not never going to say we don't recruit, which, which was very, you know, the more conservative supporters are very keen to say, No, no, we don't, you know, we're very safe. You and and then you fail with this big outbreak, we everyone's getting very agitated. And it seems like it's stirring up a lot of homophobia among people who you think might actually not be like that if they weren't being exposed to all this stuff. So we had to we took we decided to do this leaf at the basically said, we we are being lesbians, you know, we're your daughters, your mothers, your sisters, your friends, you know, we like basically we are part of you. And, and that was a different sort of tactic from what we would have done in other times. So So that was one thing. We're, we decided to go with this, but it was a bit of a step too far, when a lot of the debates were about. We were these beings in gaming born that way, or were, you know, it was a whole complex social thing. So that was very interesting. The other thing that the Lisbon coalition did, which I think was very significant was that and it was buried, and why from a French tactic in the abortion campaign near the promotion campaign, as we organized an advertisement for that when we had this big day of action. And my weather was a match. And there had been a rally and there was a lot happening. We organized a advertisement in two full pages and even post one page, I am a lesbian, or I am a gaming, and I support this. And another thing I support this. And we just felt that because one of the issues that friend wild thought at the beginning, and some others went along with her judgment on it was that we should not speak for ourselves, we being all of gaming, lesbians, everybody, we should let other people speak for us. Because if people really saw us, they wouldn't like us. And they wouldn't, you know, they wouldn't support us. Because if they saw what we were like, I mean, it was an amazing thing. And that was the full implication of it. We shouldn't have demonstrations, because people wouldn't like it. You know, I mean, this is from weird, they've been a lot of demonstrations about Vietnam War, they've been feminists, once they had been anti tour ones that were being pro nuclear weapons, though, you know, and and then you have a really powerful demonstration, like the lead match. I mean, it was just crazy. And I think the fact that the were lesbians, the lesbians in particular, got involved had been organizers for a long time, you know, to some degree and our own feminist or lesbian issues and communities. And so we kind of bought the the whole thing of saying, of a gay pride being really important that we weren't going to be asking for anything we was, you know, we were proud and that, you know, all that gay liberation stuff had to be re reiterated no one was doing us a favor. It was great that frame was putting the board the bill forward, but in a way it was you know, it should be changed. And, and also that we should be active on our own behalf. I think that was really key. And that was why we had the head the various some demonstrations and one of the ones that I particularly enjoyed was we went to the Salvation Army and asked for our money back because it was being used against us. I mean, it was just you couldn't you wouldn't ever get it back and we didn't but we had a we all in Wellington we went along at lunchtime in queued up outside the office and Cuba street nice family big the money from where from their collections that you know, because the thing is they the that was what was so [00:24:34] damaging about them taking the petition around the people will use to them coming around they were used to them collecting many people did so the Salvation Army is basically socially benevolent, doing good things. And so and so we said we gave our money to the afflictions and now we wanted a bit because it was being used to fund this campaign. So just things like that we just sort of turned it around because some of it is the the activists stuff, you know, having actions that will be people will enjoy to do and I mean, and but also and then there's also that kind of tradition of humor and and of Camp stuff in our communities. So we wanted to build on all of that you know, we had a dress up picket which I know it's crazy, but it's outside the Citadel. In weep straight the people dressed up is that dumb Sandow presses. I mean, I was just like, trying to keep things moving, keep ourselves going, make a point, and be out there. And and I think you know, and we will not going to be silenced, we will not going to have other people speak. We wanted other people to speak for us and with us. But we were not going to pull back and said they should take the lead. [00:25:44] So amongst the the group of people who are really driving it, who would you say were the leaders, [00:25:52] or people would lead us in different ways, I think because you hit the login ended up being like the convener, and yes, sort of the guy Task Force. And he took that role on and he was the spokesperson. And there were people who, you know, supported him, Allison Laurie was a co spokesperson. And she bought a huge, long experience here and internationally. The in Turkey, and stone was the she and Malcolm McAllister and others, quite a lot of others put together the coalition and supported the bill, which was a way for other organizations to support. So people would sort of did really different things. And then in che, you had, like someone like Kevin young, who'd been an activist for a very long time. And he chose that way of being part of the campaign. So and people so people to kind of did the things bought the strength to it. No, this is only in Wellington, of course, there's NP we had quite a bit to do with the lesbians in Auckland, because the real experience there who organized defense. So it's actually had to define who were the leaders apart from who were the spokes people, because a lot of people did things that were their strengths. You know, they they in the mean, the person who did quite a bit of the organizing of the advertisement was Alison lash. And there were a lot of different people bought in the things they could do. And because they were quite experienced people, they kind of could do what they did, you know, the aftermath of the advertisement was really interesting. Because a, I was run because I was the contact person for it. I was running at work by the advertising manager of the Evening Post to say, they wanted to run an apology. And I said, Why, why do you want to run an apology? And he said, because some people have run up and said the names, the same as the people in the advertisement. And I said, there's no way we're apologizing for anything, those names are all validated by signatures. And if someone if it was true, which I doubt, but if it was true, then, you know, we're not apologizing for that, because that's all they're all genuine people, which in the seminar advertising that some of the fundamentalist groups had run, they had put in the names of people without consulting them. So it was a big thing for us that everyone whose name was the head to have signed, that they were okay with it, and hopefully had to have given some money towards it, because it's really expensive. [00:28:22] And so the advertising manager went away. [00:28:25] I just said, No way, we're not apologizing for anything. And we, you know, we bought the advertisement, it was all put together, and honestly, and we're not, there's no apology from us. [00:28:35] So where did the money come from to help organize these things? [00:28:39] Well, that money was people, you know, gave small donations and larger donations, you know, a lot of the participants gave some money. In, you know, the Victoria club, gay lesbian coalition didn't really have much money. I'm not quite sure how we, well, partly people did voluntary work to print things and organize things. So we didn't have much of a fan but the task force needed a fund for various things. And in the social venues, I think were the main funders of data and maybe some individual [00:29:13] benefactors, mainly gay men gave some money. [00:29:17] The bigot busters. That's what was that about? [00:29:22] Well, you know, it was around the time of that song and movie the Ghostbusters. So idea came up, I'm not quite sure if it was who I know when Peter Nolan from BBC recorded the big at best a song with the he was his idea, I'm not sure. But anyway, idea rose for to make a bigger, faster song. And then the Indian people made big investors, sweatshirts, which had norm Jones on it, and assemble, you know, like the peace symbol that has all the symbol that's come to be used in a lot of things where it's a circle with a with a diagonal line across it. So that was over the front of him. Yeah, so school was a good graphic. And, yeah, so that that got to be that was sort of a Easy, easy kind of way of conveying that there were all these people wanting to be active. And when there was a conference, about that time when it was publicized, was a conference a match and just sort of stand up to bigger switch. But I mean, talking about big, it's not very political way of thinking about things, because, you know, but but it was one mean, it was good to just use every avenue, I think of opposition. [00:30:37] Were you involved in many of the other things happening at that time, if you kind of mentioned that, there was, you know, addiction around the tour, Springbok to where the there was the woman's refuge, and the feminist organizations coming through you busy with those, as well as this, [00:30:59] I had been, like going on a tour matches in 1981. And being, you know, to those actions, mainly in the later 70s. And 80s, I was involved in lesbian groups and lesbian issues, and I supported feminist issues, but I wasn't involved in organizing or anything like that. [00:31:22] And the allies that came in, [00:31:24] I guess, from the union movement and so on. [00:31:27] We did you have much to do with them? [00:31:31] Yeah, I mean, I guess we would have a talk or, you know, see people at actions and so on. I was that was the Coalition in support of the boat, and a lot of that organizing of contacting people. And, and, of course, there were people who, who support that, and came up and offered. And there was sort of, and it was really neat, seeing old allies, you know, people like subjects and who was an automaton in the early 70s. And, and had been very active Porter, you know, always sort of supported law reform. And so it was great to see people like that coming back coming in speaking out, because for a while, it was a little bit hard to get people to speak out. But I'm ending, of course, to a wonderful woman, like the wide net group who really liked creative actions themselves. So they were always there to support and take pattern things that were anything that was going on. Yeah, so it was it was a lot. I mean, yeah, I didn't talk to people in an organized way. But I was often in touch with them or talking with them at things. [00:32:37] How was the relationship with the working with the mean? It says, the gay woman and the gaming, [00:32:44] having to strategize and meet and so on, how was that relationship? [00:32:50] Well, it was really, it was quite complex, because they were gay men that I had worked with before and given was a good example here was we were really politically savvy and had been involved in the National Gay Rights Coalition. I had a lot of respect for him, we just worked together. And that was fine. There were a group of young gay men who were really energetic and creative and fantastic. And they, and they also did really good things like organizing self defense stuff in there, because they were out and about around town and things got pretty violent, sometimes are quite some, some of individuals got violent. And also, there was a group called the Catholics United for the faith who were quite violent young men. And a couple of lesbians got attacked by them. So yeah, anyway, so there was a really, they were very creative group of young game in the in, there was the, in the task, and some of them came to the task force all the time, some of them came to try, there was the lead the task was was it kind of mixture, and it was really, they who really didn't see lesbian says relevant. They've been might have been pleased or not pleased about our support, but they didn't really think we were that relevant to it. And so but you know, so there was quite a lot of, you know, arguments about, like, we should be leading things, we should be the spokes people, you know, gay people and lesbians. They should mention lesbians, they should not just go gay, gay, gay, they should at least say and lesbians or somehow acknowledged lesbians were part of it. So yeah, there it was. But also, you know, personal friendships and that were formed. And I think they, I think it was interesting, I think they probably ended up with quite a lot they in a lot of them already had quite a lot of respect for Allison, because she'd been around since the 60s, even though she had lived overseas a lot of the time. And then and some of the ultimate new here. So whether they agree with you, they knew that being young together, you know. And then they also there was a lot of respect for TV. I think because I came from a more political, lesbian, separatist focus that wasn't they weren't they were wary of me. Yes. So it was someone like Pauline Simmons, who was really strong. She'd been around and done a lot of things in Wellington over the years and been there since that very first attempt at law reform. So yeah, it was there was sort of tricky, but I think I think they, I think they did come to appreciate our determination on the what we saw as the key things. And that it was, you know, important that we not giveaway and that we, you know, we take some, you know, we take some control of the campaign as well. It's a collective, I don't mean, lesbians, but all of us. What were [00:35:57] the points during that 8586 stood out for you as a highlight moments? [00:36:05] Well, I think the introduction of the bill, and by having both paths in it, that was that was a highlight. But I wouldn't then that sort of, some of them are like little victories and very adverse conditions. For example, when the first we decided that we couldn't just let all these anti bill meetings happen. We had to go to them and just see what get the measure of what was happening and who the people were and stuff. And so we went to the lower hat, one sort of turning things around. I mean, there was it's always, it's always good to sort of come out to to be able to turn something on its head. And so that was when one of the organizers and possibly Norman Jones said, this is our meeting. You can't talk here because we were Hickling. So they said, you know, we've paid for it, have you going to talk you have to pay so we just wrestled up Manny very quickly. And Allison Lori and Bill Logan spoke, and they were they just had to speak off the top of the heads in front of her, you know, half supportive, but half really hostile and really pissed off crowd. So it's quite frightening. You didn't quite know a lot of the time what was going to happen if things were going to get more violent. MC because they were verbally so violent. So highlight said, you know, little little victories like that were very, with were kept desperate going. Having the matches were great. Having the week, the weeks of action in a little with a lot of people being involved, there was there was really good. And the other thing that we were doing all the time was broadcasting on lesbian radio every every week, so that was a big part of keeping things going and getting information out. Because it was a frequency. So you know, we were sort of interviewing people about what they were doing and what was happening and what was happening and other centers, community carrying with people and other centers, because, you know, different really different communications, photocopying things to hand out about what was coming up, like whole different way of communication. So yeah, and the those sort of liaisons, you know, with other with people from other centers and with other activists who really am I think the way the sort of activism and the organizing, that worked, in a way they were the highlights for me. Yeah. [00:38:28] And how were they [00:38:30] talking about this? Say the other centers, we aware of action that was happening in the smaller centers, small townships, or the rural areas, because the much going on there that you were able to support was really centered in Wellington and Auckland and [00:38:46] Christchurch. And it was really centered in Wellington in particular, because of Parliament being here and put the big emphasis on on Parliament even though of course, I'm in peace go back to the electorate's the small center that tended to be a people got in touch. And that was great when they did like there was a guy who have come Nelson, who came over quite often and talked about what was going on there. And there were people in Hamilton that we heard from who were doing things the so and then when one of the matches happened, when a long time lesbian activists was the unloving there. And she did a little match all on her own. And the streets of dag of all said that was you know, she was really pleased to discover, I think she just she had a pic Adam with. So you know, there's a lot of we sort of heard of things gradually happening around the place. Yeah. [00:39:37] Because I guess not like now. He just here instantaneously, the vein of the networks and people, phoning people or just Yeah, okay. [00:39:47] And why it was more personal, because you had to ring up or, you know, and have long discussions. And you know, so that was, yeah, and the other thing that was happening and that people did have to do and some of the smaller area is, well, in big electorates, often but small towns was because it was a conscience vote, you had to kind of win over every MP. So people were in many areas were lobbying in peace, we're telling them important parts of their lives, things that have happened to them and support of both parents, but especially the Human Rights stuff. And some MPs who should have been supporters who probably were supporters, but who were worried about their reelection Brynn like a referendum and their electorate. Some said they would be committed to the result, others said they would be guided by it. But that didn't mean like there was a bit more work to be done in various electorates. So rather than having a party support that the bill, and because we mean, Mini, obviously, most of the support did come from the party and many Labour Party MPs was supportive. But having to do all this other work, just to make sure you had an FM piece to support the votes was, that was a lot of extra. And a lot of people did that around the country without you know, there was one thing they could do contact the local MPs. [00:41:10] Can you remember what you were doing on the night of the third reading? When when? When I went through, [00:41:17] I was actually at home? I think, I don't know whether I thought it might happen, or because everyone else course now sees they they would it would happen. But um, yeah, I just didn't think you know, by that time we'll get I was getting pretty tired in them. So I didn't go to Parliament that night. So I heard it on the radio, which was in it was just, it was amazing. It was like, you know, just had to believe that it was all over. But nervous about what might be the reaction of the what sort of a backlash there might be. I mean, we knew from the public opinion polls, which is, you know, anyone gauge but we did know that public support in general was gradually creeping up. Each time the hail and Paul was run, there was a few more points and was up in the 60s at least. So, you know, we have, I hope, but I was worried. I mean, being a bit worried bit nervous about what now you know, but it was very pleased it was it was very good to have got it through despite the loss of the pattern. But to have got that through and to have the age of consent of 16. So I was here at home. [00:42:27] And after I did go through what, what did you feel it changed? Did you? Did you hear from people about how it affected their lives, or [00:42:39] I did. And you know, you had really varying things because I remember meeting two lesbians who were just coming out during the campaign and getting together and they were barely aware of it. And I just thought, that's amazing that they were living their lives. And they didn't really plug into all that sort of going around them on around them. Others, you know, who had had a really rough time. [00:43:00] I think personally, though, I kind of felt [00:43:06] it was almost the end of something. And I know there were a whole lot of other things happening now. And I'm really, you know, I really support all the politics that are going on now. But it was like with the sort of settled for that, you know, that all let those broad ideas of celebration and lesbian feminism and that that white really wanted to challenge things that wanted the hater of sexism, not to roll into in the sexism to be entered in, you know, and look at the how that related to all the other things, that classism and racism because I think one of the problems was, of course, apart from our, you know, we tend to sort of blame ourselves in our politics. But what was, you know, the social changes were happening, which was, you know, what you might all my school, some people would go mark, I don't really like that word, but I can't think of another at the moment that look at changes, some changes, like law reform, or some changes for women. But we totally lost the economic battle. And so these other huge social changes were happening that were meaning society was getting much more stratified. People, you know, losing their jobs, and the whole restructuring thing was happening. [00:44:26] The [00:44:28] end was much more of an emphasis on the individual, not the collective or the communal. And I think that was also a big thing and how the politics changed that we didn't kind of go back to Okay, we've done that. Now. What was that? What are the broader social things we wanted to achieve? Rather than the sort of rights, the whole thing got narrowed down to a rights based agenda, which is important. And we always thought it was important, but it was kind of like, leaving off all those bigger social issues that we wanted to sort of work out ways to disrupt into have questions. So but I mean, I think mostly, I like quite a few of people still had a, you know, we had a big life. It was, so it was very tiring, you know, it was really tiring, it was a lot of energy, a lot of thought you and you were kind of on your toes for most of that time, especially that first year match to the end of 85 really hit to be on your toes for every location, and every move everything that was happening and work out how to counter things. And, and somebody I know, like, below them basically spent his time doing it. Alison, Lori's been to your time doing that. I did work full time as well. So I wasn't. But I was certainly talking to people during the day. And that was things that come up, you know? And, yeah, it was it was a big effort. For but it was good. I mean, it was certainly well with it. And I mean, it's hard to believe it took so long, from the first efforts here, sort of 6263 when gaming started talking about it, that it's, you know, it was good, it was kind of one of those things you wish you hadn't had to do in a way though, because it was some, you know, fighting for something that should never have been there. You know, it's a little bit rather than moving into something more constructive. But it was fantastic that we that we did manage to do it. And I do think that we did stop that whole moral right movement. And even though it was kind of interesting, because one of the things that came up when Alison Laurie was overseas, getting support over there, because one of the there wasn't a day of action overseas as well. People pick it up New Zealand embassies and Salvation Army. premises in other countries, which was fantastic. Canada, Holland, Denmark, you know, Australia. So it was really, it was really good. Anyway, those people kind of drew the links about, you know, the anti nuclear movement. And because of the right wing people who were feeding into the stuff here, they were very, you know, they were involved in right wing activities across the board in the States, not just religion, they were anti American foreign policy, being liberalized at all and stuff like that. So it was, you know, there were a lot of, there was a lot of connections, between the issues, things that were happening here, and the longer government attempts of foreign policy and social stuff. While at the same time, they were just going ahead with that whole economic agenda. So it was kind of like contradictions there. [00:47:35] So that the world was watching, in a way, [00:47:38] I think they were because I think for those sort of really, really, you know, fundamentalist groups in the States, they liked the idea that they could influence a country. Because in the States, the laws are, you know, they were it was a lot of at state by state. And so they were quite keen to work in a country Elora that was a whole country. So and they, and they, you know, the people came over here, and they put some money in they, I mean, some of the things they did were really counterproductive, which is good for us. You know, they open up the guy who helped them organize the presentation of the petition that really put a quite a lot of people off who, because it sort of had that whole Nuremberg rally look. So things like that. Didn't work for the unfortunately. But we also had to counter because people didn't realize that a lot of the stuff they were saying the heart really nasty, anti gay stuff, a lot of that came from the American publications. Not all of it, I mean, that no American publication said we should be all put on Ronnie Tojo Island, or, you know, all the other absurdities that came out. But a lot of the sort of underlying things came from American right wing publications. And [00:48:51] church. [00:48:52] Religious Yeah, yeah. Mostly religious. So that when he is a talk, another debate that we had, I mean, I'm have mentioned the kind of debates about the level of activism, how out we could be speaking about ourselves, the sort of ball net way, debate. There were there were a lot actually, we think about a lot of interesting debates. And one of the things that came, of course, because it was quite a big thing I've seen at that time was about outing people, especially outing opponents. And we had actually a quite a serious talk about that, because there were people who were being who were anti. Not, we didn't I don't think we knew anything about some of the main anti leaders. But we did know a few things about anti people. And we pretty sure that they had six experiences, if not more. And so we there was a big debate present in the end, we decided no, because we thought, given the whole atmosphere of homophobia that just feeds into it. Because it's kind of it acting like it's negative, it's really hard to get across that complexity, that the negative is that being so hypocritical, and that being, you know, gay or having same sex experience themselves, they're attacking and damaging as it's really hard to get that across. So it would be satisfying for us, but it wouldn't have achieved both things politically. So we liked it. But yeah, there were many, many issues. I think that when you're running a big campaign like that they have to deal with all the time. And it's really interesting to think of what they were at that point. [00:50:29] Because those sort of things, if you did decide to go down that check that religious block, and you face that [00:50:36] blow up in their face, and they could, but it could just end up being negative everybody, as in the person, you know, we obviously, but it was infuriating. [00:50:48] When people are actively working against you, and you know, you know that it's because of how they feel about themselves or something that frightened of in themselves. [00:50:57] Some, a few looking at the homosexual law reform and help it's open the door for change for rainbow communities. Now, what would you say were the main things that came from it? [00:51:12] Well, I think it was, of course, made it much easier to push for human rights, which was a bit of a double edged sword for lesbians, because there's good things about it, but also meant, for example, two lesbians living together with you have to go into a married benefit. If there were beneficiaries, they wouldn't have to single benefits, you know, they would trade offs. It the passage of homosexual law reform bill, I think definitely means that New Zealand could address HIV AIDS much more constructively, I mean, wasn't perfect or anything, but it can move into a more constructive phase. And that was another good argument for it, especially to in paste to heaven law reform, so that, you know, safe sex education could be done and or Well done, and all that. In the in, I guess what I was saying before, I think it's the latest legislative changes have all been good. But it kind of put us on that trick of legislative changes. But yeah, so it did, it definitely opened the door for that. I mean, I think it definitely meant made things easier for game in. And for lesbians as well, and that we were, you know, affected by people just seeing as all as one. And [00:52:29] so I think for gaming, it's a bit more relaxed. [00:52:34] And so, I mean, I do think the continuity is are important, though, because, you know, seeing it all as a very long process. Rather than that, when that all time, it seems to me often that people see the whole homosexual or form and gay liberation and all kinds of things. There's only those two years, that this huge, long history beforehand. And these are, you know, which I suppose pretty records book shows, there's all these cultures and in Dallas and Larry's thesis and, you know, publications that it shows that these been communities and same seats, communities, networks, relationships, forever. And this is just our sort of manifestation of them. So it's really important not to take those two years out of the context. [00:53:22] So in the years after, would you went on the had a bit of a wrist? [00:53:29] relative, I imagine, [00:53:30] I did keep on doing the lesbian radio program that sort of was probably the main thing I did. And I was involved in some other lesbian activities, and that that helped after I'd started organizing lesbian studies conferences, which were quite successful in the 90s. So there was Yeah, so there's been a, I've done other things. And now mainly, my main involvement is lesbian and gay archives. [00:53:56] So [00:53:57] I find it hard to imagine that I could have done all that Woot for that, you know, that whole period, because it was really intense. And when we were when I was younger, like in the, in the mid 70s, things, it was very intense to we really got into things and organize things. But yes, so that's the kind of thing that you can always sustain your whole life doing it at that pace. [00:54:20] Wasn't without that change legislation would things like the lesbian studies conference, I mean, [00:54:25] that that legislation actually helped [00:54:29] make lesbians more visible in terms of the debate and, and so on, that was out there did just, [00:54:37] I think what happened was that there was a huge public discussion that hadn't been planned for, and we probably hadn't thought it would be that huge, and it was huge. [00:54:51] And in a way, the fact of that [00:54:55] open things up, and we went, so you have to have the truth. And she the big public discussion, and the fact that the bill was passed, and least part one was passed those two things together, I think made for quite a lot of changes. You know, having said that, of course there's still all the issues that we hear about now that for both for you know, across the board really but particularly for young people and I think increasingly for all people but it's you know, definitely was a big change and [00:55:26] and a relief.
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