Title: The "treasure" of the Labour Party Credit: Lindsey Rae Features Wednesday 19th December 2001 - 12:00pm1008716400 Article: 22 Rights
Following the Labour Party's annual conference Lindsey Rea reports on the place of, and opportunities for, gays and lesbians in the Party. Participants at the Sector Day for Rainbow members of the Labour Party associated with the Party's Annual Conference at the beginning of December, were pleased to hear the Party President describe the Rainbow membership as a treasure. There are five Rainbow branches, two in Auckland and one each in Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch. Under the Labour Party Constitution a disparate group within the party is able to form a sector council. The Rainbow Branches, with several hundred members formed a sector council last year. The co-chairs, Judie Alison and Robert Watson reported on the year's work and the outlook for the Election year to come. At the last Election, Labour had six out gay, lesbian and transgender candidates. They were showcased in a leaflet which was a world first. No other major political party anywhere in the world had put out a publication advertising queer candidates. Of the six candidates, three were elected, all to constituency seats. The Sector Day identified a need to have a lesbian candidate in a good list position next time. (I was the first out lesbian Labour candidate at the last election, but at number 55 on the list I was not going to get elected) The major policy initiative has been the Relationship Property legislation which comes into force on February 1 next year. This applies equally to same sex as well as straight couples who live together for 3 or more years. Changes to the Human Rights legislation will also enable more of our issues to be pursued. The policy under discussion is the possibility of a Civil Union Bill. The Sector Day spent a lot of time discussing consultation with the queer community on the drawing up of this Bill and tactics for its introduction. We were pleased to welcome Labour President Mike Williams to the Sector Day. He was fulsome in his praise for the work of the 3 Rainbow Members of Parliament and the contribution of the Rainbow Sector to the Party. Rainbow people are everywhere within the Labour Party, not just in the Rainbow branches, but in the ruling Council of the Party, and the Moderating Committee which selects the List, as well as local electorate committees and regional organisations. Lindsey Rae - 19th December 2001    
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