|Chris Carter, MP for Te Atatu, has a personal message for GayNZ.com. The election campaign has begun in earnest and a number of political parties are campaigning for the votes of our communities. There is no room for complacency when it comes to gay and lesbian rights in New Zealand. A lot has been achieved in the last decade and a half, but a lot more remains to be done.
There is no question that the recognition and acceptance of the Rainbow communities has improved in our country. However, many rights that straight people, and particularly couples, take for granted are not available to even the most long-term and stable of gay and lesbian couples. The next step, or should I say the 'last hurrah' of gay and lesbian emancipation in New Zealand are relationship and parental rights. We need to urgently establish a legal relationship model that does not discriminate on the basis of sexuality. It needs to be akin to marriage, in terms of right and obligations, and yet sufficiently different to be a politically viable concept. Alongside my Rainbow Labour Parliamentary colleagues, Tim Barnett and Georgina Beyer, I have been working for the past three years on such a concept. As a result, the Government, led by gay and lesbian-friendly Helen Clark, has made an undertaking to enact a Civil Unions Act in the next Parliamentary term, if Labour is returned to office. I think this is an important incentive for gay and lesbian voters to support Labour. Civil Unions will bestow upon our communities those same rights that married couples readily enjoy, such as spousal immunity, health rights, access to same-sex immigration and a range of other benefits. Rainbow Labour supports and represents the gay, lesbian and transgender communities in Parliament. This year's Labour Party list reflects that commitment. If polling proves accurate, Labour's Rainbow Caucus will be greater than ever, and will include as many as three openly lesbian candidates. This will be another first for New Zealand. Our transgender MP, Georgina Beyer, is already an international celebrity. Following her recent appearance at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, she was featured in the national press in Australia. She is headed shortly for Los Angeles, where her documentary 'Georgie Girl' will be featuring in the film festival there. Georgina's success as a person and a legislator has been amazing. She is a left-wing, transgender, Maori candidate who has managed to win a staunchly National, rural constituency, and is likely to increase her majority. Labour is the party with the proudest history of supporting our communities. The Homosexual Law Reform, my election as New Zealand's first openly gay MP, and the success of my colleagues Tim and Georgina owe a lot to the accepting attitude of our Party. The next Labour Cabinet will be very gay and lesbian-friendly, and our communities will have powerful allies in people like Helen Clark and Margaret Wilson. I am looking forward to the challenge and the achievements of our next term. Chris Carter MP for Te Atatu Electorate Labour Junior Whip Hon Chris Carter, MP - 24th June 2002