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Election platform: Candidates address glbti issues

Sat 15 Oct 2011 In: Politics and Religion View at Wayback View at NDHA

This is a subject by subject run down of the views expressed by nine political candidates who spoke at the GABA Forum on Thursday evening, as part of the lead-up to the General Election. As is a glbti-focussed medium we have edited out the “the lives of glbt people will be better if we fix the eonomy” type of statements and instead concentrated on the specifics of being glbti and the ways in which politicians and governments can affect our lives. The subjects are presented in the order in which they emerged during the evening and the speakers' order is based on the order in which they spoke on Thursday night - which was the result of a random draw. Some candidates appeared to be seeking electorate more than party votes but we have not differentiated between their comments in this regard. To some degree they were all representing their political parties. However, we should note that the liberal views represented by all of these candidates statements may not always represent the general tenor of their actual parties. Most, but not all, of the candidates are gay or lesbian. Some of their statements have been edited for clarity. THE SPEAKERS: 1. Pita Sharples, co-leader of the Maori party was unable attend due to being at the opening of the Waka exhibition centre on Auckland's waterfront. His address was presented by Bronwyn Yates. 2. Kevin Hague is a Green party spokesperson on rainbow issues. 3. Nikki Kaye is the National MP for Auckland Central. 4. Claudette Hauiti, National, was the producer of the glbt TV programme Takataapui. 5. Damian Light, United Future, has a background in management and business studies. 6. Sue Bradford is the Mana party spokesperson for housing and issues of social wellbeing. 7. Maryan Street is a former Labour cabinet minister and is a past president of the Labour party. 8.    Charles Chauvel is a lawyer and Labour's Justice spokesperson. 9.    David Seymour of ACT has a background in engineering and as a commentator on public policy. ADOPTION Bronwyn Yates, Maori: It is the whanau that should be the first port of call in adopting children. Adoption is a legal fiction in its assumption that the biological parents can be replaced. The connection we have to our geneological links, our whakapapa, should be protected. Whanau is where children find the strength and support to become caring, productive members of society. Whanau, regardless of sexual orientation, must be encouraged to care for our children within the family. Kevin Hague Kevin Hague, Greens: Changing the 1955 adoption law to put at its heart the interests of the child. All of the options for adoptive parents need to be on the table including same sex couples. We have been very active with the cross party working group on adoption issues. Claudette Hauiti Claudette Hauiti, National: The Adoption Act 1955 is outdated, antiquated  and discriminatory. Damian Light Damian Light, United Future: Adoption is not about the sexual orientation of the parents, the issue is whether the parents are suitable. United Future would support changed legislation to allow same-sex couples to adopt. Sue Bradford Sue Bradford, Mana: I am proposing that Mana support disposing of the Adoption Act 1955. We want to replace and update it with new legislation which takes into account many factors including whangai adoption, understanding that the rights and well-being of children should be paramount and acknowledging that homosexual couples should be granted the same status regarding adoption law and practice. I acknowledge Jacinda Adern's work in Parliament on this area and should I be voted into parliament I will be right there beside her working on adoption. It's a great passion of mine. David Seymour David Seymour, ACT: I can't understand why it's the role of government to decide what the gender composition of a couple adopting children should be.   Maryan Street Maryan Street, Labour: Jacinda Adern MP took our adoption bill to Justice Minister Simon Power and he said that it wasn't going to happen under the Nats. DISCRIMINATION AND EQUALITY Bronwyn Yates, Maori: The Maori party opposes any form of discrimination or prejudice. We will support measures and initiatives to end discrimination based on sexual orientation. Kevin Hague, Green: Our policy is based on total equality on our terms without having to compromise on who we are in order to gain that equality. In relation to the To Be Who I Am report, we support its recommendations, in particular the addition of gender identity to the grounds on which discrimination is prohibited under the Human Rights Act and we acknowledge the work being done, largely by the transgender community, on health issues. As a gay adult in 2011 my life is now immeasurably better than it would have been back in the 1970s when I was coming out. But for a 14-year old boy coming out in 2011 and starting to realise his difference, I don't believe that things are actually that much different. My greatest priority has been creating a supportive social environment for our young people to come out into. Nikki Kaye Nikki Kaye, National: A lot of people ask me why I am a National Party MP. It's because I believe in the equality of opportunity not of outcomes. As long as I am in Parliament I will vote progressively. That will mean sometimes supporting a Greens or Labour bill. We have more liberals coming through in National and I think that is a very good thing. The future of this country in strengthening our social fabric is having people across the political spectrum who progress these issues.   Damian Light, United Future: As someone who has only recently come out I know that United Future is fair, open and believes in choice. United Future believes in removing barriers to create a more open society for all and out policies are driven by the strong belief in personal freedom as well as a collective strength. This room, this city, this country is filled with diversity and this is something we should celebrate. Our personal freedom to live as we wish is so important to us all. My generation enjoys more personal freedom than the last yet there is so much more that we need to do. Our policies include renaming the Ministry of Women's Affairs to the Ministry of Gender Affairs, recognising that gender equality is an issue that affects us all. Sue Bradford, Mana: Our draft rainbow policy, which I hope will be adopted, is about bringing rangatiratanga to the poor, the powerless and the dispossessed. Many people that have a gender identity that is different to the mainstream live on the margins of society and, as we know, suffer multiple disadvantage. And all those in the Rainbow communities, whatever their economic position, continue to face legal, institutional and social discrimination in Aotearoa today. Mana is committed to respecting the rights and dignity of everyone in this country including everyone who is part of our rainbow communities. I'd like to see our government legislating for a third intersex gender option on all official documentation including passports in line with recent moves in Australia and India. Maryan Street, Labour: Our policies are based on three principles, equality, safety, and dignity... that's all and that's everything. We believe in equality of human rights and no difference on the basis of sexual orientation. And we believe in sticking up for glbti rights, safety and dignity around the world, in those countries where people are beaten, tortured, killed, imprisoned because of their sexuality. There is a global responsibility as well as a local one. David Seymour, ACT: I believe we should have freedom of choice in all aspects of life. Niki Kaye, National: [Asked how long it will take for the 2007 To Be Who I Am report to be implemented] One of the things I have found heartbreaking as an MP is the number of transgender people who come through my office who have been discriminated against. Within National these issues are conscience votes. However, I believe that we need to progress these issues and the issues surrounding transgender people specifically are crucial. I support implementation of that report. HOMOPHOBIA gender constitution of a marriage. We should not be worried about having gay marriage in New Zealand and there should not be opposition to that. Kevin Hague, Greens: There should be absolute equality so if marriage is available as a state sanctioning of relationships to couples then it should be available to same-sex couples also. All Green party MPs will vote for that. I actually don't mind whether that's achieved by extending the marriage act to same-sex couples or repealing the marriage act and making Civil Unions the way the state recognises relationships... and leaving weddings to churches if they want to do that. Bronwyn Yates, Maori: I don't know why anyone needs to get married. GLBT SUPPORT ORGANISATIONS Nikki Kaye, National: I am very proud that for the first time, under this government, we have a contract with Body Positive. The sustainability of  funding for lgbt support organisations is one of the biggest issues in this community. That's why I have promoted the Auckland Pride festival, because the future of that is to get some funding that is sustainable for this community. Out of our Community response fund we have to do more in the voluntary and community sector David Seymour, ACT: [On voluntary student union membership] I don't believe the UniQ cause requires the compulsion of every other student of the university to fund it. Charles Chauvel, Labour: The first financial support that came to any glbti groups came under Labour governments, and they came first under the rubric of HIV but after that they came more widely. We have recognised the need to fund glbti welfare groups and we've done that expressly in our policy, expressly mentioning youth. I want to see groups like Rainbow Youth well supported to do their job. But it isn't just about youth and that's why we've made the pledge ensuring that at the centre of Government planning for  service delivery is a glbti perspective. YOUTH Kevin Hague, Green: We commissioned from an Intern at the University of Waikato entitled how do we make it better. The origin of that was the fantastic It Gets Better project that I recorded a video for. Then Blake Skjellerup said to me: 'Wouldn't it be good if it was better right now?' So that report is about how can we catalyse a community response around those recommendations. Sue Bradford, Mana: I'm seeking the adequate provision of on-going funding for organisations that provide support and encourage participation by and for particular groups including, for example, support groups for young gay and lesbian and others inside our schools, and also for groups that provide health, employment and other support to those in the rainbow community who have particular needs. Mana will increase the visibility of voice of disadvantaged young  Maori gay, lesbian, bi transgender and intersex peoples in the institutions of local and central government including DHBs and educational bodies. Nicki Kaye, National: The prime Minister John Key has mentioned that we will be reviewing youth suicide. One of the things that I feel very strongly about and that I will be advocating about is that young lgbt people in this country re over-represented in youth suicide. So I will be taking that forward if I am re-elected. AGEING Charles Chauvel, Labour: As I creep through my 40s I am aware that I don't want to end up in a rest home cared for by a well-meaning carer who's never had an interaction with a gay person before. Obviously we have to have safety in the services going forward as well as safety in services we get now. Jay Bennie - 15th October 2011    

Credit: Jay Bennie

First published: Saturday, 15th October 2011 - 6:29pm

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