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National and Labour square off at forum

Thu 13 Oct 2011 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Labour's Maryan Street and Charles Chauvel (left) and National's Claudette Hauiti and Nikki Kaye (right) Labour has pointed to its history of being an advocate for glbt rights, while a National MP has asked voters to give glbt rights advocates from parties across the political spectrum a chance at a generally placid, but sometimes fiery, Gay Auckland Business Association electoral forum tonight. Around 80 people turned out to The Langham to hear representatives of National, Labour, the Greens, the Maori Party, United Future, Act and Mana speak on a range of issues, from same-sex marriage and adoption to protecting transgender people from discrimination and voluntary student union membership. National was represented by lesbian list candidate Claudette Hauiti and current MP Nikki Kaye. Kaye has a liberal stance on a number of glbt rights issues: she is in favour of full gay marriage rights, same-sex adoption and recently sparked the push for an Auckland pride festival. She told the audience she feels particularly strongly about inclusion of specific reference to gender identity in human rights protections, saying she finds the number of trans people coming into her Auckland Central electorate office who have been discriminated against "heartbreaking", adding, "that particular issue around transgender people is crucial, because there are people being discriminated against every day". The Auckland Central MP told the audience a lot of people ask her why she became a National MP and she tells them it comes down to the fact she believes in equality of opportunity not outcome. She said many glbt people have told her they want a future where they are treated as ordinary citizens, who want progress on the economy and public services, but also have specific issues they want addressed. "I want to acknowledge the Labour Party for the progress they've made, but I also want to say that the future of this country in strengthening the social fabric is having people across the house that will press these issues," she stated. "As long as I am on Parliament I will vote progressively. That means sometimes supporting a Green Party bill or a Labour Party bill, because I believe that we are not there yet," she said, adding she believes there are more liberals coming into National. "And yes, many of you may walk out of this meeting and some of you may vote for the Labour Party. But all that I'd say to you is that if you want to have a strong social fabric in this country, you will support people across the house who are trying to progress these issues." Senior Labour MP and open lesbian Maryan Street told the audience her party has three simple principles behind its policies; equality, safety and dignity. "Yes, we are in favour of same-sex marriage and it is time it came about. That in the end becomes an issue of human rights and just what we do as a society to recognise equality before the law and no difference in human rights on the basis of sexual orientation." Street remarked on the six-strong line-up of Rainbow Labour candidates on a card being circulated at the forum and also acknowledged attendee MP Jacinda Ardern for the work she is doing in pushing for adoption reform. Street later pointed out Ardern approached departing National MP Simon Power with her bill, which would lead to adoption laws being updated, and was told it 'would not happen under National'. She said cross-party cooperation is great in theory, "but when you have an outgoing Minister of Justice who could have changed the adoption law in the last three years, but chose not to, who goes out saying 'I wish I'd voted for civil unions', 'I wish I'd voted in favour of Sue Bradford's Section 59 Bill', I'm sorry, there has to be some accountability here." Street went on to say Kaye may well be the heir to the great tradition in the National Party of urban liberals like Katherine Rich and Simon Power, "but look what happened to them. Trust the record folks, trust the record," she concluded. Gay Labour MP Charles Chauvel added history is important and "leopards do not change their spots". There was a wealth of information, pledges and opinion discussed from the many speakers at the forum which will add in a variety of stories soon.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 13th October 2011 - 11:50pm

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