1. Nelson Mandela (1918-2013): Even legends have to die some time- most sadly during this year, the iconic former first black South African President Nelson Mandela, mourned across his native South Africa and throughout the world as the liberator of his people and the chief architect of an inclusive South Africa, including LGBT South Africans. Sorely and sadly missed. We shall not see his like again. Rest in peace, Madiba.
2. Louisa Wall: On a much brighter note, Labour's Manurewa MP Louisa Wall steered the Marriage Amendment Act to victory in the New Zealand Parliament in April 2013, with an unassailable 77-44 margin on its third and final reading. Even fundamentalist homophobes like Colin Craig acknowledge that any 'repeal' referendum would fail, given its level of popular support. Louisa is tipped for personal ascent within the parliamentary Labour Party as a result of her commitment and shepherding of this bill through parliament. The bill provided both marriage equality and inclusive adoption reform for LGBT New Zealanders. Marriage became accessible for us in August 2013.
3. Francois Hollande: Despite near-terrorist conditions, riots and assaults on police officers and supporters of marriage equality by a toxic combination of French neofascists and far right Catholics, French Socialist President Francois Hollande adamantly stuck to his own reformist agenda and introduced marriage equality and inclusive adoption reform to France. As a side-effect, this means that marriage equality is available in neighbouring French outposts such as New Caledonia and French Polynesia, overseas dependencies.
4. David Cameron: Britain's Conservative Prime Minister may be deplored for many other things, but under his tenure as Tory leader, the British Conservative Party has become startlingly inclusive. It isn't universal, as over half the British Conservative parliamentary caucus voted against their leader, but the other half supported Cameron, as well as most Labour, Liberal Democrat and one Green MP and much of the House of Lords in providing marriage equality for England and Wales.
5. Grant Robertson: Labour's former Deputy Leader of the Opposition made a valiant effort to become Leader of the Opposition when David Shearer unexpectedly relinquished the role earlier this year. While he was ultimately defeated by David Cunliffe, Robertson is still rated as the third most senior member of the current parliamentary Labour Party. And if Cunliffe stumbles at the finishing post at the 2014 New Zealand General Election, it may be Grant's turn next. He may still become New Zealand's first out gay Prime Minister.
6. Frank Mugisha: The heroic leader of Sexual Minorities Uganda deserves some credit for his perseverance, self-discipline and role in mobilising opponents of Uganda's murderous and draconian antigay "Anti-Homosexuality Act" both within and outside the repressive Central African state. One hopes that his efforts will ultimately be rewarded.
7. Rodney Croome: Similar applause should go toward the efforts of Australian marriage equality campaigner and longtime Tasmanian LGBT rights stalwart Rodney Croome, despite the failure of marriage equality to make inroads at the level of the Australian federal election, or in Tasmania and New South Wales during the last year.
8. President Barack Obama: Where does one begin? Obama deserves credit for his commitment to the passage of the anti-discrimination Employment Non-Discrimination Act within the US federal Congress and support for marriage equality during the first year of his second term of office, as marriage equality made steady inroads through several US states.
9. New Zealand's Marriage Amendment Act 2013: Enough said!
10. Maurice Williamson: For his side-splitting and acidic "big gay rainbow" comments during the third reading of the Marriage Amendment Bill back in April 2013, reported across the international media.
Ten Worst …
1. Anti-Homosexuality Act, Uganda: In the benighted, corrupt Central African state, blighted by intensive political corruption and decades of civil war and authoritarian misrule, extremist US Christian Right homophobe Scott Lively was responsible for misinformation that prompted National Resistance Movement MP David Bahati to craft his "Anti-Homosexuality Bill." It was also backed by former Ugandan "Ethics and Public Integrity" (sic) Minister James Buturo, Ugandan Parliamentary Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. The United Kingdom has already suspended foreign aid to Uganda after a Foreign Office audit revealed intensive levels of corruption in receipt of financial aid to the nation and other boycotts are threatened from the European Union, Canada and the United States.
2. Anti-Promotion Act, Russia: As with the long-repealed Clause 28 of the Thatcher era Local Government Act 1988, this Duma legislation prevents LGBT free speech and public protest, as well as provision of positive images of LGBT individuals and groups within social services, NGOs, educational curricula and the media. Harsh repression of Russian LGBT activists has already been carried out and there are ambivalent messages ahead of the Russian Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014, leading many national leaders to boycott the sporting event and many LGBT overseas athletes to demonstrate their sexual orientation. Vladimir Putin supports such initiatives, despite protests from the United States and European Union.
3. Marriage Equality, Australia: At a time when Uruguay, France, New Zealand, England and Wales, Scotland, Brazil and several US states powered forth over the issues of marriage equality and inclusive adoption reform, Australia stuck out like an embarrassing sore thumb. While former ALP Prime Minister Kevin Rudd valiantly supported marriage equality during the Australian federal election, recession and dysfunctional ALP factionalism led to his defeat and the ascent of inept Liberal/National Coalition leader Tony Abbott to the Lodge. However, undeterred, state marriage equality campaigns tried to achieve such objectives in Tasmania and New South Wales. There is still some hope, as Abbott and his Liberal/National Coalition are proving increasingly unpopular, and long-time Liberal leadership rival Malcolm Turnbull seems to be gearing up for a leadership contest if this continues...
4. Margaret Thatcher (1926-2013): The late British Prime Minister aroused diverging sentiments within a deeply polarised United Kingdom. Given her eleven years of office and transformation of British economic policy, the Conservative Party and its centre-right supporters mourned her death at eighty seven. However, given her role in passage of Clause 28, the dissolution of the progay Greater London Council and support of tabloid far right newspapers, as well as anti-union repression in Wales and Northern England, she was detested in equal measure amongst deprived Welsh and Northern English former mining communities. Her death sparked a period of celebration amongst these former adversaries.
5. Winston Peters: While New Zealand Prime Minister Key, Leader of the Opposition David Shearer, Maori Party co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia, ACT leader John Banks (!), United Future's Peter Dunne and Green co-leaders Russell Norman and Metiria Turei all voted for the Marriage Equality Amendment Act, Winston Peters and his benighted far right New Zealand First caucus completed the blotting of their copybook on all LGBT legislative reforms by voting en bloc against the legislation in question. Fortunately, their ultimate electoral survival seems questionable. They failed to get a Supplementary Order Paper against reform which would have wasted nine million dollars on a referendum.
6. Bob McCoskrie: The blustering, buffoonish leader of the New Zealand Christian Right pressure group Family First had to sit back and watch from the sidelines as the Marriage Equality Amendment Act progressed through the select committee phase, and then on to its Second and Third Readings and final passage. More amusingly still, it failed to mobilise sufficient anti-reform petition signatures and parliamentary submissions against the proposed legislation and only succeeded in getting five MPs to switch their votes to opposing reform. In the end, the bill passed 77-44. McCoskrie's Family First had its charitable status revoked by the Charities Registration Board, although it is still fighting this decision in the courts. McCoskrie also networked with his fellow international Christian Right acolytes during the World Congress of Families in Sydney in May 2013, one month after defeat.
7. Colin Craig: For much of the duration of the campaign against marriage equality, Conservative Party leader Colin Craig was missing in action, perhaps because he could see the direction of the campaign. Toward its end, he resumed his opposition to it, but was ultimately unsuccessful. Despite this, as ACT and United Future faltered during 2013, and the Maori Party went through transition after Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples announced their retirement at the next election, the Conservatives were spoken about as a potential replacement coalition partner for National- arousing much antipathy on the centre-left and centre-right alike, despite ambivalent and contradictory opinion poll ratings.
8. Asenati Lole-Taylor: New Zealand First's transphobic bigot MP and anti-sexworker bigot deserves special mention for her fanatical support for the Manukau City (Regulating Prostitution in Specific Places) Bill and her own equally reprehensible Prostitution Reform (Control of Street Prostitution) Bill. These proposed bills are based on populist hysteria and intended to ban street sex work on Manukau City's Hunters Corner, which will disproportionately harm transgender and cisgender sex workers in that environment if allowed to pass. Thus far, the Local Government and Environmental select committee has successively delayed reporting back the bill, and it is now scheduled to be reported back to Parliament in March 2014. Also worth mentioning in this context- the Manukau Courier for its reprehensibly biased news coverage, John McCracken of the Papatoetoe-Otara Local Board, Mayor Len Brown, and retiring Labour MP for Manukau East Ross Robertson for the same reason.
9. Ian Wishart: For continuing to publish his silly, useless Investigate tragic tabloid gutter glossy.
10. Tony Abbott: The Australian Prime Minister continues to oppose marriage equality, sabotaging the Australian Capital Territory's short-lived Marriage Equality Act, given that the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory have home rule but their democratically elected legislatures can still be overruled by that of the federal Parliament, as opposed to the Australian states. But will he still be Australian Prime Minister by the end of 2014, as concern rises about his ineptitude in the aforementioned public role? Watch out for GayNZ.com's traditional Heroes and Villains lists for 2013 over New Year 's Eve and New Year's Day! Craig Young - 29th December 2013