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Title: Maxim and "Toleration" Credit: Craig Young Comment Friday 20th August 2004 - 12:00pm1092960000 Article: 372 Rights
 
In its latest Real Issues, Maxim accuses the LGBT communities of stretching "passive" public acceptance of homosexuality "too far" over the Civil Union Bill. Odd. I hadn't thought "tolerance" was in the fundamentalist vocabulary. After all, they did invite Paul Adams MP onto their Milford Baptist Church anti-CUB panel, and he talked about recriminalisation of male homosexuality, and Brian Tamaki has said much the same thing, which indicates some of them haven't changed since the eighties. But still, let's analyse this Mc-argument. Firstly, the New Zealand public approves anti-discrimination protections for its lesbian and gay citizens and has done so for the last decade or so, since the Bolger administration passed the Human Rights Act 1993. In 1996, the first MMP election saw the defeat of the Christian Coalition because its leaders were stupid enough to threaten repeal of that legislation if it ever became a National coalition partner. It also tried to rip the National Party off through flaking apart and doing the Nats no good if they had succeeded in getting into the House of Representatives. Arguably, New Zealand society today is a tolerant one. There appears to be widespread revulsion at anti-Semitic defacement of Wellington Jewish graves, and in Christchurch, an anti-racist march gathered thousands of participants, against a sickly contingent from the neofascist National Front. And as for the Civil Union Bill, the fundamentalists are skulking around, apart from Tamaki's little extravaganza planned for August 23rd. It's not the mid-eighties, and the New Zealand public might well see it as the continuation of the anti-discrimination debates of the early nineties, or incremental spousal law reforms over the last decade or so. It is the Maxim Institute that is out of step with modern New Zealand. Unlike seventeenth century British Puritan author John Milton, the Institute has not bothered to support the principle of meaningful religious freedom when it comes to public debate. Had it done so, it would have been forced to concede that its position on same-sex relationships is a fundamentalist one, not shared by mainline Protestant New Zealanders or post-Christian fellow citizens. It would also have to condemn the arrests of Unitarian-Universalist ministers for following their constitutional guarantees of religious freedom, and performing same-sex marriages within the United States. It has not done so. Sure, I agree with the concept of "tolerance." I don't think that the likes of David Irving or the National Front should be tolerated, because of the harmful and anti-social "values" (sic) that they represent. However, rebuttal of these pollutants in the body politic should occur through carefully elaborated arguments about why they're wrong. This should apply to homophobes too. The Maxim Institute is wrong because critical analysis of its arguments says so. Let them elaborate their arguments- and then let us show that those arguments are factually in error or imitative of overseas arguments. Critical public debate is about that. Craig Young - 20th August 2004    
 
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