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“Leftie, feminist lesbian” nails maiden speech

Wed 15 Feb 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

Jan Logie has made a powerful and positive maiden speech in Parliament, and received her first hug of congratulations from another of Parliament’s out lesbian MPs Maryan Street. “I stand here today as a leftie, feminist lesbian,” Logie told the House, only to be interrupted by a cheer and applause from what she described as her ‘fan club’ in the public gallery. “I stand here as an ordinary Pākehā New Zealander. I stand here knowing how much better things could be if we did things differently,” the eloquent 42-year-old continued. She covered the ills in our society she has seen in her career in social work; “I also carry with me into this House all too many stories of gender-based abuse and violence. One in three girls, one in seven boys, one in eleven women, and up to one in two trans-people will experience sexual abuse in this country,” she said. “Like most of you, I carry some of these stories etched into my heart from experience; my own, of others I love and those I have worked with through Women's Refuge and Wellington Sexual Abuse Helpline. The people of these stories who have been victimised by what is predominantly men's violence are from all ethnicities, of all ages, genders and sexualities, across an ability spectrum, and from every economic stratum. “It is important to me that I bring these stories into this House, because these stories need to be shared and the shame taken away from those holding the stories.” Logie spoke of ways to make real change, through not just creating a taskforce, but actually implementing its recommendations. She then turned to the positive, mentioning attending Rebecca Swan’s Assume Nothing exhibition at the Dowse Art Gallery in 2008. “The exhibition showed a range of people who do not fit traditional gender roles or narrow definitions of sex, looking strong and beautiful,” she explained. “Attending the exhibition, having recently returned from overseas, I felt so proud to be a New Zealander; proud to live in a country that has such spaces and people willing to share so intimately of themselves in the pursuit of understanding and the celebration of diversity.” Logie finished by saying that she is in Parliament to work for a world where we can enjoy our differences of gender, sexuality, culture, ethnicity, ability, and age in every aspect of our society. “We are a diverse population and I hope to see the potential of this diversity realised. It would be wonderful to see government as a whole drive to increase innovation and productivity by addressing the barriers that are holding all too many people and communities back. “I will work to grow this hope so we can all see the beauty of difference rather than the fear of the ‘other’.” There was a standing ovation from many on the opposition side of the House, though the National side was mostly empty for the Greens’ maiden speeches. Logie was first congratulated with a hug by Street, who says it was a “great, great speech” followed by congratulations from gay Labour deputy Grant Robertson and another Labour MP Jacinda Ardern. Logie’s party then broke out into a waiata. Logie joins Street and Louisa Wall are the three current open lesbians in Parliament.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 15th February 2012 - 5:32pm

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