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35th anniversary panel discussion

In this podcast Fran Wilde, Trevor Mallard and Kevin Haunui reflect on the campaign for homosexual law reform in the mid-1980s. The panel is introduced by Judy O'Brien, and ends with comments from MPs Elizabeth Kerekere and Chris Bishop. A special thank you to the participants and organisers for allowing this panel to be recorded and shared.

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  • 00:01 - Judy O'Brien
  • 03:28 - Fran Wilde
  • 18:40 - Kevin Haunui
  • 23:27 - MP Trevor Mallard
  • 34:20 - Questions from the floor
  • 40:35 - MP Elizabeth Kerekere
  • 43:45 - MP Chris Bishop


The abstract focuses on the key points and insights shared during the 35th-anniversary panel discussion at the Parliament buildings, which celebrated the milestone of homosexual law reform in New Zealand. The event hosted a panel of individuals who played pivotal roles in the reform process and embraced a broad spectrum of sexual orientations, gender identities, and diverse backgrounds.

The panelist Judy O'Brien, highlighted the turbulent path to law reform which was marred by brutal opposition, divisions, and the manipulative use of the AIDS crisis to stigmatize the gay community. Despite the challenges, the law reform marked a crucial step toward inclusivity and acceptance within society. Judy shared a personal journey from a time when public displays of affection were unimaginable for queer individuals to the present legal acknowledgment of same-sex marriage and transgender rights.

The session shed light on the strategic aspects of driving public opinion changes, as emphasized by Dame Fran Wilde. It stressed the significance of educating the public and empowering MPs to vote for reform through targeted campaigns in their electorates. These efforts focused on dispelling harmful stereotypes and garnering support from a range of ally groups including those from religious, health, and education sectors. Fran Wilde recalled the immense contributions of gay men who courageously came out during the campaign, risking their careers and safety, highlighting their role as real heroes of change.

Fran also touched upon the misuse of AIDS by opponents and the tactical parliamentary maneuvers that ensured the presence of supportive votes during crucial readings of the law. The panelists acknowledged the contribution of individuals and groups across New Zealand, particularly noting the solidarity and support from openly gay, lesbian, and allies within and beyond the political sphere. Additionally, Fran stressed the ongoing need for tolerance and inclusivity, particularly in schools, foreshadowing the work that still remains.

Kevin Haunui reflected on the wider implications of homosexual law reform as a foundational step in shaping New Zealand's society and the ongoing transformation in addressing the rights of the broader LGBTQ community. The panel further discussed current legislative efforts such as reforming the Human Rights Act to include gender identity and expression, reinforcing the continuous path towards advancing equality.

Trevor Mallard provided insights into the personal and political challenges faced during the reform campaign, including the hostile environment and the need for discretion and clever political strategy. The event also addressed questions from the audience, underscoring the pivotal importance of the reform in the context of New Zealand’s colonial history and its impact on confronting and amending discriminatory laws.

The closing remarks by Dr. Elizabeth Kerekere and Chris Bishop, members of the Rainbow NZ Parliamentary Network, advocated for bravery in the ongoing quests for equality and the power of personal stories to influence and drive forward social and legal change, looking ahead to the battles that still need to be fought.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:8th July 2021
Location:Parliament buildings, Wellington
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004621).