Title: A catch-up with Louisa Wall Credit: Jacqui Stanford Features Saturday 9th June 2012 - 3:25pm1339212300 Article: 11857 Rights
Louisa Wall Lesbian Labour MP Louisa Wall will take on Conservative leader Colin Craig in a debate about equality on Q+A on Sunday morning. It comes as her Member's Bill on the issue of marriage has been cleared to go into the next ballot. "Hopefully it's going to be a really reasoned and rational debate and we can talk about the concepts of equality and human rights," Wall says. "Because he seems to have equality as being one of the cornerstones of being a New Zealander, but I think for him its very limited. It's around race. So rather than look at the broad spectrum of the discriminatory areas according to the Human Rights Commission, I think he's got a very narrow prescription so he won't extend human rights to same-sex couples, or people who have got different sexual orientation or gender identity. I think he completely misses the concept of what human rights are all about." A Bill she has written to create marriage equality in New Zealand will go into the next Parliamentary ballot, after passing through all the necessary processes and scrutiny. "In an ideal world the Government would adopt it, but Key's been very clear it's not a priority for his Government. Unlike the President of France who has made it one of the first things that he's going to do," Wall says. "I guess the fact that they don't think human rights is an issue probably is more a reflection of them. If you look at where society is, there are lots of challenges ... but actually one of the biggest issues that we have facing New Zealand at this time is that there's growing inequality. "And actually for me anything that addresses inequality and strives toward equity, which my Bill will do, should be a priority for a government, because it is about giving people hope. It is about identifying groups in society where they have less provision or opportunity than everyone else has. "So they have this mantra of 'equality of opportunity' but actually they don't know what it is. So it's just a theory for them." Wall is welcoming bisexual broadcaster Ali Mau's stand on Close Up this week, saying it's great she has taken some responsibility for being an advocate. "She probably doesn't want to, but I guess given her personal situation in the fact she and her partner are engaged and she wants to marry, it's just a really nice coincidence in time, that my Bill's in the ballot and we have the opportunity to have someone of her standing in the community talking about the fact that wants to marry and 'actually why should I be denied that right?' I think that making it personal and having someone like her who people respect and have an affinity with is fantastic for our community. I just want to commend the fact that she's become an advocate for our community." Louisa Wall (right) with fellow Rainbow Labour MP Maryan Street at the Big Gay Out in 2011 A One News Colmar Brunton poll which found 63 per cent of New Zealanders are in favour of gay couples being allowed to marry does not surprise her. She explains she has been researching definitions of marriage, and found they have evolved over time. "I think we are a fact of life, and we are a phenomenon that's not so marginal anymore. And I guess even when you have sitcoms like Modern Family on TV, they do occupy quite a normal space in society. So I think that we've evolved, matured to a point in New Zealand where people, I think, are happy to say 'what's the problem with that? Yeah it's fine.' "And I think using that philosophy of equality and human rights is the basis for what we're asking for, which is just what everyone else enjoys. So I wasn't that surprised to be honest, particularly with the Obama thing and with the international publicity around it. I think it's just heightened people's awareness." Wall says one of her priorities as Chair of the Rainbow Labour Caucus is to advocate for marriage and adoption equality. She believes the debate with Craig will be the beginning of some serious debate and dialogue, which is a healthy thing. The MP says there are moves within the community too to mobilise outside Parliament and the issue is an opportunity for the entire rainbow community to participate. "We might not get it pulled out first time, but in some ways it gives us time to mobilise and engage - and engage in really meaningful ways, particularly with our religious organisations, so that they're not so threatened. The only threat to religious institutions and organisations I see is from their own congregation ... if you see how civil unions are administered, celebrants have a choice. And because churches aren't public places, churches can retain their own position on same-sex marriage. But you know, what are they afraid of? "Gay people are religious, we belong to churches as parishioners, but also there are ministers who are gay. That's not going to change. So are they afraid of the debate, really, within their own religious institutions?" Jacqui Stanford - 9th June 2012    
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