Article Title:Maori bishop suggests Euro-blame for homosexuality
Category:New Zealand Daily News
Author or News Staff
Published on:5th November 2003 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:2090
Text:Eminent Anglican church leader Bishop Te Whakahuihui Vercoe has caused outrage with claims he made on national television that would lead people to believe that homophobia among Maori was justified because there was no cultural evidence to suggest that homosexuality existed in pre-European society. "There is clear evidence that pre-European Maori sexuality was far more accepting of sexual diversity and difference than is the case today," says Te Herekiekie Herewini, the Kaiwhakahaere for the NZ AIDS Foundation. "Furthermore, we know that the imposition of a western way of looking at the world, based on Christian concepts and beliefs, was responsible for an erosion of traditional cultural practices and values. This was especially so in relation to sexuality." Researcher Dr Clive Aspin says that statements like Vercoe's serve to create an environment that is unsafe for gay and lesbian Maori. "It is important that the Maori community and young people in particular are given the opportunity to understand the truth about our sexuality from an historical point of view," he says. "Inaccurate views of sexuality have had a huge negative impact on young people and we have to work hard to ensure that our young people grow up in a society that is free from discrimination and intolerance around issues related to sexuality." "Sexuality plays a fundamental role in how people view themselves. This is especially important with regard to health status," says Dr Leonie Pihama, Director of the International Research Centre on Indigenous Education. "With Maori being disproportionately represented among people with poor health status, there is an obligation on everyone to ensure that people receive clear and accurate information about the history of our sexuality."    
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