Title: Red Swathe of the Rainbow? Credit: Craig Young Comment Monday 12th July 2010 - 10:14am1278886440 Article: 9045 Rights
Justice Minister Simon Power has said that any imminent parliamentary discussion of adoption reform is 'off the schedule' and 'not a government priority.' It raises questions about why any LGBT voter would support the New Zealand centre-right, then. One might reasonably point to David Cameron's prudent acknowledgement of the benefits, caring and responsibilities of same-sex parenting in the context of the United Kingdom and wonder why John Key equivocates so much about it, stating that he 'personally' supports it, but will not follow his conscience and mainstream scientific and medical expertise, but follow the wishes of his rural electorate. One is therefore forced to conclude that New Zealand's LGBT communities are being 'punished' for something. Granted, it may be the case that the Key administration might quietly move to reform the blood donation ban or asylum policy if these became more practicable areas of contention, but they also need to realise that inertial conservatism of this obstructionist sort is a short-term expedient at best. LGBT New Zealanders and the centre-right have a record of distrust that has stretched over the last four decades. Rob Muldoon (1975-1984) delayed homosexual law reform, which occurred under David Lange's Labour administration, although the spiteful populist opposition of National and its fundamentalist allies meant that the anti-discrimination provisions of Fran Wilde's original bill had to be delayed until the passage of a revised Human Rights Act in 1993, which included sexual orientation, HIV status and disability rights amongst other expanded grounds. Even then, it was in the form of a Supplementary Order Paper because of National's truculent and obstructionist social conservative elements, although a National Party social liberal cohort voted for the legislation...even if it didn't include gender identity. After that, it took eleven years to pass civil union legislation. Again, National proved treacherous, selling us out for ill-begotten electioneering bribes from the extremist fundamentalist Exclusive Brethren sect. And now, they're delaying adoption reform... Granted, Key and Power do have honourable records when it comes to their opposition to United Future's same-sex marriage ban and their commitment to rapid repeal of the discredited provocation defence. I have no doubt that they'd move similarly quickly if policy reforms could be accomplished without major legislative effort, as with the blood donation ban and fine-tuning asylum and refugee policy if neccessary. On the latter two issues, ACT sadly doesn't. It voted for the same-sex marriage ban and was the only parliamentary party to oppose provocation defence repeal. As I have noted in previous columns too, welfare privatisation and insurance-based 'welfare benefits' are not in the interests of low-income and unskilled takatapui, whakawahine and fa'afafine workers, or the LGBT mentally ill. Labour and the Greens stand for a neutral comprehensive welfare state, as opposed to the serious risks and dangers if welfare provision is wholly or partially outsourced to religious social service providers, as some New Right dogmatists urge. There should also be a worrying contingency in the back of National's strategic mind over continuing to frustrate the aspirations of an articulate, disciplined and politically active constituency like LGBT New Zealanders. It wouldn't take much to flick ACT and United Future at the next election through tactical voting. In that event, National would be solely reliant on the Maori Party as a coalition partner, leading to stresses in both caucuses and party organisations. Would National grant aspirations like (say) a written constitution that includes the Treaty of Waitangi as one of its cornerstones? If Labour and the Greens do, then that might be a powerful inducement to change sides. Rising unemployment, anger at social service cutbacks and incompetent service delivery and other policy mistakes will then probably accumulate during National's second term, until the poisoned chalice second term has been drained. Now imagine a Labour/Green coalition that wins the second to next New Zealand General Election in 2014... And Messrs Key and Power should also remember that we are predominantly inhabitants of metropolitan electorates and under proportional representation, we vote as an electoral constituency bloc, for those parties that recognise LGBT rights. If they continue to frustrate our aspirations for an end to one of the last bastions of substantive antigay discrimination in this country, then sooner or later, they will risk the whirlwind. Craig Young - 12th July 2010    
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