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Maryan Street - Rainbow Politicians

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride in [00:00:04] Hello, how are you today? [00:00:06] I'm great. Thank you all [00:00:07] a bit of a having your presence in my office being for [00:00:10] Thank you. So you're Marion [00:00:12] Marion straight Member of Parliament and my seventh year [00:00:17] and your [00:00:19] second term or [00:00:22] Yeah, we've got three year terms. So this is my third term as a member of parliament [00:00:26] term. So we from [00:00:30] born you Plymouth originally, but spent most of my adult life in Auckland 27 years, also an Auckland, and then move to Wellington because my job and now I'm [00:00:43] I, I'm, [00:00:44] I go between Nelson and Wellington now. So I've worked out of Nelson, mostly [00:00:50] with your like, MP base, we have Nelson [00:00:53] Nelson as my as my unpaid base. This is my Wellington office, obviously. But Nelson is we're based as a list in p, and I've been there for the last five years. So live there and and [00:01:10] so why did you wanted to go into politics? [00:01:14] I've I don't recall a time when I wasn't in politics. Oh, yes, I do. When I was at university, I wasn't very politically attuned. I was very active and all sorts of other things, but not not politics. And it was [00:01:30] towards the end of the 70s when my political awareness started to sharpen up so I was 20, early 20s at that point, and, and then I started to become aware, painfully aware of, of injustice really around me and in equity, [00:01:48] particularly as a woman, but and then increasingly, as I understood my own sexuality, around around gay politics as well. [00:02:00] Was it like when you found out that you were becoming an MP? Oh, [00:02:06] it was something that wasn't a surprise to me. I've been very involved in politics for a long time, by then, I'd been the president of the Labour Party in the 1990s. And I'd stood down from that, because my partner and I, at the time, had a daughter who was just about to start school, and I wanted to be out of the public eye before she started school. So we [00:02:34] I waited 10 years, until, until my daughter was old enough to contribute to the decision. And, and came into parliament when she was 15. So she's, she's all grown up, but she has grown up with politics as well. [00:02:51] Is she going to be in politics when she's older? [00:02:53] Well, she's [00:02:54] just finished her degree in majoring in political studies. So something's right off. But I don't know that you want to be an MP, but she's very interested in policy work. [00:03:06] How's it how has being an MP change? Do [00:03:11] you have to get used to [00:03:15] the intrusion, the public intrusion on your life, so there isn't much that's private, I try never to do interviews in my home in order to protect that area, so that people can't comment on the kind of house I have. And it's just a level of self protection. That's important. And I think because I'm, I'm usually a very sociable and domestic person, and I like to have people to dinner for example, at my house, I, the number of times in a year I can do that has severely restricted because of my workload. And, and so it's a real treat for me when I can, I can get some friends I'd really love round to dinner. And and that's, that's a great treat for me, but I don't do it as often as I'd like to so that kind of intrusion, the workload intrusion on private life and the fact that [00:04:19] you never off duty as an MP, [00:04:22] you never off duty. There's always something happening. [00:04:26] It's not just that wherever you are, you are an MP. So you can't [00:04:37] you have to leave the country to get any sort of anonymity. And, [00:04:43] and I don't get to do that very often. [00:04:47] Occasional holiday. I, [00:04:50] I had one. I had one last year and beginning of this year overseas [00:04:58] over Christmas, and it was very fantastic. Just walking around and, and knowing that nobody knew who you were was fantastic. Yeah, yeah, it was great. I did happen to run into people on you because I was in London. So you do tend to run into New Zealanders there. But, but it was it was great. was really good. [00:05:18] So what is the Rainbow Room? [00:05:21] The Rainbow Room is a room that [00:05:24] some of us rainbow in peace decided would be a good thing to have in Parliament. We've got a Maori Affairs Select Committee room, we and that has been around for a very long time. There's a very old Mario face select committee room and the one I took you to was the newer one. [00:05:44] But that's been around for very long time. In fact, the old ones called native affairs letter audibles. So there's a Pacifica Pacific Island, select committee room, there was a women's one, which some of my colleagues in the HTC agitated to to have, and that's got photos of every woman in p that's ever been here. [00:06:09] Around the walls. [00:06:11] I don't know whether they've updated it recently. I haven't been on to have a look. So I should go. And I know, I know what it was. It happened in the 90s because it was for the hundredth anniversary of women's suffrage. That that came about. And I think they stopped the photos at 1993. So I don't think there's been any photos added since since then. That's what I remember now. Yeah. [00:06:37] And so some of us thought it was high time after the homosexual law reform in the 1980s. It was time to get a Rainbow Room because we had a number of rainbow impede and [00:06:56] and so we agitated they were all in the Labour Party at that time. I wasn't in Parliament. [00:07:06] As that movement started, Oh, gosh. No, perhaps I was because I was there for the year. So it must have been after 2005. So by then we I mean, we had to man it. Chris Carter, we had [00:07:25] Georgina Byers, the first transgender [00:07:28] MP in the world, actually. So they were they were all labor child Chevelle may Grant Robertson now. [00:07:42] Lewis a wall. So we've we've got a bit of a history of gay MPs and the Labour Party. And, and while term and Georgina and Chris are no longer in peace, we've still got got four of us in the house now, including Kevin Hague, as well for the Green Party. And Jen Loki just joined. So that's three lesbian in peace now. So for a long time, I was the only lesbian MP in the house, and was Sydney the first outward. [00:08:22] But [00:08:24] before that, of course, it was Marilyn wearing and in the 1980s. And that was a different era different time. And it was much more difficult for her to be out [00:08:37] at that time. So [00:08:42] now we've all heard the national Patty's also got one game p Crispin awesome, who's a minister of arts, culture and heritage and Treaty settlements. And [00:08:54] he's not quite as keen on advocating gay positions is [00:09:00] the rest of us are, in fact, just voted against the first reading of the marriage equality bill. [00:09:07] Why is that? You'd have to ask him. I have no idea. I can't work it out. [00:09:12] Or the other LGBT IQ politicians from the past that you admire? [00:09:18] Oh, yes. I think Marin wearing did. [00:09:23] did a very good job in lots of ways. I think. While many people knew she was gay, she she wasn't out publicly. And Rob, Rob Muldoon, the Prime Minister at the time, who was a tyrannical sort of a leader, use that against her and, and made her life quite miserable. I mean, she was in his caucus. And, and he made her life quite miserable in that regard. But we're long past. We're long past that, that stage where homosexuality is an accusation. It's not anymore, and, and we're much more part of the wallpaper than we ever used to be. So I think those have gone before me like Kristen term. And Georgina, have all been wonderful trailblazers. [00:10:16] What's it like being a lesbian in Parliament, [00:10:19] as kind of unnoticeable, really, it's, [00:10:25] I'm proud to be out and proud to [00:10:31] defend gay issues. [00:10:35] And to represent them. [00:10:38] My Portfolio, my major portfolio is health. And I'm absolutely preoccupied with that where there are health issues that affect queer communities, then I'll advocate for those just recently, I wrote to Tony Ryan, asking him about what moves been made since they've been in government to improve access to health care, appropriate access to health care for transgender people. So I'm just waiting for the reply on that. [00:11:14] So I'm happy to advance those issues. within and outside of my portfolio, certainly, if they come up, people would expect me to, to advance those issues. And I do. So apart from that. [00:11:29] We saw normal that it's normalized, that it's kind of not an issue on a day to day basis, it's only an issue as things come up. So I don't experience any discrimination. [00:11:46] The any novelty value as long since worn off? And there's certainly no [00:11:54] possibility that anybody could use it as a weapon against me because I've disarmed them on that front. [00:12:01] Going to talk about health moms. And so [00:12:06] yeah, it's really interesting, because one of the questions I asked of, of Tony Robbins was relating to the appropriate provision of health care, and the mental health and safety of transgender prisoners. So I'll ask what I'll be interested to see what he comes back with on there, because I think it's a real issue, because a lot of our transgender community end up in prison for one reason or another, and getting them put in the right prison as a hassle to start with, and then getting them appropriate. appropriate care. Health care is, is a real issue as well. And they are seriously at risk. And President so I do have real concerns for Cortana. [00:12:54] Is it legal [00:12:55] to give donate blood if you're a homosexual? [00:12:59] No. homosexual men? No. But seems to be all right for women. But no, there is a there is a prohibition it's not a it's not a law. But it is a prohibition that the New Zealand Blood Service still applies to game in. [00:13:21] And just as recently as last year, we had in front of the health Select Committee, we had the New Zealand Blood Service come up for Financial Review. And so I asked them about this very point. And I said, Okay, we are you up to with dropping the blanket discrimination now that we've got screening processes for for blood and an all blood now a screened for HIV? Why do you stop stop gay mean giving, giving blood, and they still maintain that it's a high risk group. [00:14:01] And the World Health Organization standards such that this [00:14:10] blanket discrimination applies in numbers of countries. And and until such time is that is relaxed internationally. They don't feel they want to lead the way on there [00:14:23] is any way that Parliament can actually intervene by that [00:14:27] by continuing to press the point? and saying, and certainly, [00:14:33] if I were health minister, I would be keen to review that. I'm sure it can be done by regulation, it could certainly be done. But I will do it under advice. But it seems to me that given the the increasing prevalence of HIV and the heterosexual community, [00:14:56] it is still a precautionary measure. Vader's used to that discriminates against against gay men. And [00:15:09] and I think [00:15:11] that the the emergence, particularly through refugee communities, and others, have HIV and the heterosexual community begins to erode the rationale for the discrimination against against gaming. However, it is still true, that game in a high risk, a higher risk population, [00:15:36] that why a lot of people try not to come out it as the sexuality when they could donate blood. [00:15:44] Well, I don't think they should. They should. [00:15:48] They shouldn't conceal the sexuality. [00:15:52] If they, if they know that are not at risk, and they the absolutely certain they're not at risk, [00:16:01] then certainly they are being discriminated against. [00:16:06] But that issue needs to be dealt with, properly. And, and by by regulation and by agreement. [00:16:15] So what's it like being a woman in Parliament, ah, [00:16:22] the over the last, I suppose two decades, or [00:16:29] all three decades now. I think we have trained the men [00:16:36] and we're getting a different breed of male MP coming through, which is great. Well, you know, then they they tend to be married to modern women. They got to get with the program, the dinosaurs, who who [00:16:55] would call it girly, [00:17:00] died off. [00:17:02] nobody uses that kind of language. Now they used to and used to be put down for being a woman, but long before I came into parliament, but it was prevalent in the 60s and 70s and 80s even and but with a huge influx I have to say of labor women. And in 1984 with the fourth Labour government came and we had a huge influx of of women who were all stroppy and didn't put up with any of that crap. And so the men would try and fairly quickly. [00:17:33] How did you cope with the [00:17:37] with the anti homosexual statements and the debates, especially with same sex marriage? [00:17:42] Oh, they were nowhere near as, as vile or as hostile as the the whole campaign for homosexual law reform in the 80s. So we've moved we've evolved, we've grown up and and what's least the posing us is a little radical, usually religious ramp that will never be persuaded anyway. But there's so much in the minority now, that really and truly, they don't, they shouldn't bother anybody. It was not like that in the 80s. And people were vilified, and took a lot of courage for people to come out these days. It's not a matter of courage. It's simply a matter of honesty.

This page features computer generated text of the source audio. It is not a transcript, it has not been checked by humans and will contain many errors. However it is useful for searching on keywords and themes.